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Breaking news & local stories from Camden City, Berlin, Laurel Springs and more

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    A person fired shots at police officers and an armored vehicle from inside a house in Gloucester Township

    A tense police standoff in Gloucester Township involving a person who has fired multiple shots at officers and an armored vehicle continued into a ninth hour Thursday morning, forcing evacuations and the closure of the town's schools.

    The standoff in the Brittany Woods development began around 9 p.m., police said. In their most recent update at 4:18 a.m., police said they are attempting to deescalate the situation.

    No injuries have been reported. Gloucester Township police also asked residents to shelter in place.

    Police said officers initially responded to a call about shots fired, prompting the standoff. During the attempts to get the person to surrender, additional shots were fired, police said.

    Schools in Gloucester Township are closed on Thursday as the standoff continues. The Black Horse Pike Regional School District, which includes Highland High School, Timber Creek High School, and Triton High School, has also canceled classes.

    About 18 people have been evacuated from their homes while others have been instructed to remain inside, 6abc.com reported.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     
     

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    Two new teams enter this week's girls basketball Top 20.


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    A person fired shots at police officers and an armored vehicle from inside a house in Gloucester Township

    An overnight standoff between police and a man at a home in Gloucester Township ended Thursday morning, according to police. 

    Police used a robot to breach the home and the stand-off ended around 9:30 a.m. When they went inside they found the suspect was injured. There was also a woman inside the home who was not injured, police said. 

    Weapons were found inside the home, but police did not specify what kind. Police did not say whether charges would be filed, and said more information would be released later today.

    The standoff in the Brittany Woods development began around 9 p.m. after a report of shots fired, police said. It forced schools to close and led to evacuations.

    At 8:05 a.m. police said on Twitter that residents in the area should stay in their homes. 

    Police said officers initially responded to a call about shots fired, prompting the standoff. During the attempts to get the person to surrender, additional shots were fired at police and an armored vehicle, police said.

    Schools in Gloucester Township were closed on Thursday due to the standoff. The Black Horse Pike Regional School District, which includes Highland High School, Timber Creek High School, and Triton High School, also canceled classes.

    About 18 people were evacuated from their homes while others were instructed to remain inside, police said.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us: nj.com/tips.

     

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    The Wawa on Route 38 in Cherry Hill will now be available for Grubhub orders.

    Wawa, the convenience store chain that's all over South Jersey and creeping farther north too, is expanding its delivery service to the Garden State.

    The store at 500 Route 38 in Cherry Hill will be the first in New Jersey to offer Wawa Delivery, which has orders fulfilled by the delivery service Grubhub. Select locations around Philadelphia were already offering the service.

    A few dozen items are available for order from the Cherry Hill store, including hoagies, chip and coffee drinks.

    Orders can be placed by going to wawadelivery.com or on Grubhub through the app or website, however customers will have to enter their address to see if delivery is available.

    A Grubhub spokeswoman said the delivery area around the stores extends into parts of Cherry Hill, Haddon Township, Collingswood, Maple Shade and Pennsauken.

    Delivery fees, order minimums, menu items and hours may vary depending on location.

    On Thursday afternoon, a delivery to Collingswood -- a town that borders Cherry Hill -- would cost $1.99 and would require a $10 minimum. 

    The wait for a hoagie? 45 to 55 minutes.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    A police vehicle was hit with multiple shots fired at them during the standoff, cops say.

    A 24-year-old man was found dead in a home in the Sicklerville section of Gloucester Township Thursday morning after what police say was an 13-hour standoff. During the siege, a police armored vehicle was peppered with shots after nearly a dozen rounds were fired from the barricaded home in the unit block of Hampshire Road. 

    Police say they did not injure the man or return fire, but did report he had sustained an injury after the incident was ended when police entered the home shortly before 9:30 a.m. Police Chief Harry Earle did not say the man was dead during a news conference moments after the incident was ended.

    A woman was also taken from the home, police say. A neighbor said she was handcuffed. Officials did not report if she was a victim or is facing charges.

    The local and regional school district serving the township canceled school Thursday. Earle said schools were closed "because it was a dangerous condition that we didn't want children or anyone exposed too."

    Police say the incident started at 8:05 p.m. Wednesday with reports of multiple shots being fired outside a townhouse in the Brittany Woods section of the township. Responding officers took cover when they heard gunfire. Then an armored vehicle from the police tactical squad was hit with multiple shots when it responded for backup.

    Officials say another armored vehicle was used to evacuate 18 nearby residents who waited out the standoff at a local fire station. 

    Other residents were advised to shelter in place. That's what Renee McGill did.

    "I heard them saying, 'Mike, phone us or pick up the phone," McGill said. "Mike we just want to make sure everyone is OK in the house. Mike, we don't want to make things worse than they already are right now.'"

    McGill said her daughter initially heard gun shots around 8 p.m. Wednesday while walking the family dog. McGill said she arrived home twenty minutes later and heard, "pop, pop, pop, pop" at around 8:30 p.m. 

    Through out the night and morning she gave a play-by-play account to friends in text messages.

    "Headline news story...Barricade situation in my neighborhood...within my eyesight," McGill texted a friend. She watched the drama unfold from a rear window on the second floor of her home.

    Police finally breached the door with an armored vehicle and a robot.

    Officials say the incident is still under investigation and have not announced charges.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    The Country Town Diner caught fire around midnight, police said.

    A fire that burned through a South Jersey diner early Thursday morning has likely destroyed the building, according to police. 

    The Country Town Diner in Berlin sustained significant damage when a fire broke out just before midnight. The flames raged through the early hours of Thursday morning, and police closed a portion of the White Horse Pike as officials fought the flames, officials said. 

    "The inside is a disaster," Berlin Borough Police Chief Michael Miller said Thursday afternoon. "It's mostly likely a total loss of the building." 

    Miller said there was significant water damage that had caused the drop ceiling to nearly disintegrate. He also said it was too soon to pinpoint the cause of the fire, but that officers were continuing to follow up on several leads. 

    The diner was closed for the night at the time of the fire, and no employees or customers were injured by the blaze, police said. 

    Nearly 12 hours after the fire broke out a handful of police officers, as well officials with the Fire Marshal's office, remained at the scene. Caution tape blocked off the diner's perimeter, as an officer with a K-9 walked along the edges. 

    Large holes were visible through the charred roof, but most of the exterior appeared unscathed by the flames. 

    Robert Zbikowski, a friend of owner Thomas Giannis' for more than 20 years, was waiting in the parking lot next door for the all-clear to go in and see the damage. 

    "[The diner] means a lot to him, business was going good," he said, noting that Giannis had just over a dozen employees at the diner, and that it had opened under his management around Mother's Day. 

    Giannis was leasing the property, Miller said. Tax records show a group called Sunrise Equities based in Great Neck, New York, has owned the property since at least 2010. Many recall the landmark eatery as the White Horse Diner.

    Zibkowski said he had left the diner Wednesday night with Giannis around 10:30, not long after it closed.

    He said Giannis runs the diner and takes care of his parents, who are nearly 90 years old. Zibkowski said he often comes by to help, since his friend was in a car crash about a year ago and is still using a walker to get around. 

    Giannis could not be reached for comment Thursday. 

    "This is all they have," Zibkowski said, looking at the diner where holes were visible through the charred roof. "I don't know what they're going to do now." 

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find NJ.com on Facebook

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    JCP&L and PSE&G customers were affected in several counties

    About 22,000 homes and businesses are without power in several towns in North Jersey after a Jersey Central Power & Light substation issue and weather-related problems, officials said.

    Most of the outages are in Morris, Sussex and Union counties with nearly JCP&L 15,000 without lights as of 8:25 a.m, spokesman Ron Morano said.

    Crews are out working to restore power after a second outage took place, according to Morano. 

    Earlier, JCP&L spokesman Scott Surgeoner said the total outages had dropped to 1,000 and crews were still looking into the cause.

    Byram, Berkeley Heights, and the Mount Olive/Roxbury area are among the most affected. Byram schools are closed Friday. 

    PSE&G has about 6,000 customers in the dark as of 8:30 a.m. due to the weather, according spokeswoman Deann Muzikar. The majority of the affected PSE&G customers are in Bergen, Essex and Passaic. There have been no transformer explosions.

    Meanwhile, Lodi police said a transformer issue in the area of Baldwin Avenue has knocked out power to homes and some traffic lights. Officers are re-directing traffic. 

    The JCP&L issue at the substation occurred around 5:30 a.m., Surgeoner said

    "We're trying to determine the cause of the substation issue, but restoring power to our customers is our top priority," Surgeoner said. He added JCP&L has "no reports of any explosions" for transformers.

    Only one substation is affected, Surgeoner said. He declined to disclose where the substation is located, citing security reasons. 

    The number of outages have fluctuated throughout the morning.

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    Several schools also have delayed openings. The County College of Morris says it will have a delayed opening at 9 a.m. due to a power outage. Wilson School in Lodi will open at 9:30 a.m. because of what officials called a power issue. Hawthorne High School also has a 90 minute delayed opening, while Mountain Park School in Berkeley Heights will open two hours late. 

    Meanwhile, a transformer fire and downed wires closed Route 70 west in Cherry Hill for a few hours. The road has since been reopend. It's not clear if that problem was related

    Editor's note: This story and headline has been updated to reflect changing numbers as power is being restored through the morning.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    Check out some top storylines from this week.


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    10 of N.J. hockey's top players over the past week.


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    See the biggest stories in N.J. girls basketball this week.


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    New day for S.J. boys hoops on NJ.com

    NJ.com has always covered South Jersey boys basketball. But not like this.

    I was mid-way through a fulfilling career covering South Jersey HS sports for a Camden County newspaper when things came to a screeching halt. We’ll spare you the details - if you follow South Jersey HS sports closely, you probably already know them.

    Let’s say everything took a sudden turn for the better - for me and for the whole South Jersey HS sports scene - when NJ Advance Media/NJ.com posted an opening for a high school sports reporter position in December. A few days later, there was a meeting of the minds, and before long my career was back on track - and importantly, South Jersey HS hoops coverage was headed for a big boost.

    There’s nothing like South Jersey high school basketball.

    From the high-intensity games on a daily basis to those cozy, nostalgic gymnasiums scattered throughout the region; from the sounds of bouncing balls and squeaking sneakers to the roar of student sections, it all helps make for an incredible couple of months.

    My new mission is to be the voice for South Jersey hoops within the collective statewide mindset of a great reporting team that now also includes one of the statesmen of N.J. HS basketball, Mike Kinney. The goal is to elevate coverage of the movers and shakers, highlight those who make the game great.

    We’ll also continue to hit the airways each Saturday with a contributing segment on local radio, adding analysis and some well thought out opinion.

    From my perspective, it’s important that the people in Jersey City, Monmouth or Linden know what’s happening with teams from Cherry Hill, Hammonton, Atlantic City and elsewhere.

    It’s important for South Jersey players, moms and dads, grandparents to be able to turn on the computer, click a few links and find important and entertaining information.

    The recipe is in place and we’ve already started to work with the ingredients. We spent time at the Seagull Classic watching Wildwood Catholic against Lenape, Timber Creek battling Linden and Camden Catholic face off with Atlantic City. On Thursday, it was off to Medford for a Top 20 showdown between Shawnee and Timber Creek. More great games and stories are certainly on the horizon waiting to be told.

    As one of the newest additions to the NJ Advance Media high school sports staff, I’m looking forward to increasing exposure and showing what South Jersey boys basketball is all about.

    But, South Jersey hoops community, YOU have a role to play - that includes ADs, coaches, players and parents. We have a feeling South Jersey is under-represented in NJ.com’s many statewide lists of top teams and players. That can’t change without you.

    It starts with the simplest thing – reporting a complete box score. It’s important for coaches or their trusted helpers to take a few extra minutes after every game and provide as much information as possible. You know how to do it - or if you don’t, reach out to me and I’ll get you help.

    People love numbers and they enjoy seeing their names. If coaches and stats people do their job, more kids will have a chance at making the weekly list of leaders or see their accomplishments noticed in top-player pieces or a hot-takes nugget on a Friday morning.

    Players and parents - let coaches and ADs know if your team’s stats are slow, incomplete or otherwise lacking on NJ.com.

    Great moments are going to happen. If you don’t see me at your game or if you have an idea you believe is worth exploring, take the time to reach out. Send me an email so your thoughts don’t remain in the dark.

    So, what are you waiting for? Make sure to follow along on Twitter (@kminnicksports) and visit our website early each day for the latest developments.

    Heck, come back often. There’s always something new and exciting to quench your thirst.

    It’s an exciting time to be a South Jersey boys basketball fan, and I look forward to enjoying the ride as much as you do.

    Kevin Minnick can be reached at kminnick@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kminnicksports. Like NJ.com HS sports on Facebook.


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    The off-duty cop was stopped by Lindenwold police and arrested, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office says

    An off-duty cop in Camden County was arrested Friday night after police in a nearby town say they found more than an ounce of weed and a gun in his car, authorities said. 

    Robert Williams, 33, of Maple Shade, was stopped by police in Lindenwold while driving with his three young children, Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo said in a release. 

    Williams faces charges of drug possession and distribution, a weapons charge, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct, according to the release.

    State pension records show Williams was hired by Chesilhurst Police Department in January 2017 and was paid $33,246 per year. 

    He is currently being held in Camden County Correctional Facility and scheduled to appear before a judge on Sunday, the release said.

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at CMcCarthy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    The man held police at bay for several hours until he was found dead in the house.

    Authorities have identified the man who held police at bay for hours earlier this week, firing on them at one point, before eventually killing himself this week.

    Police say Michael Glennon, 24, argued with a family member Wednesday night in a home on Hampshire Road in the Sicklerville section of Gloucester Township, then took a gun and began shooting outside.

    Authorities say police responded to the scene around 8 p.m.

    A male family member fled from the house in the Brittany Woods development and told police what was going on inside.

    A woman police identified as Glennon's girlfriend was still inside the house and on the phone with police when Glennon began firing on officers outside, authorities said. That woman was afraid of being injured by gunfire if she tried to flee so she remained in the house.

    The standoff lasted through the night. Schools in the area were shutdown as a precaution.

    Officers eventually made entry into the home and found the front door and stairway had been barricaded with furniture. Police discovered Glennon dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    His girlfriend was found in an upstairs bedroom unharmed.

    Detectives located an SKS 7.62 x 39 rifle with a tripod, a hunting rifle and a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber handgun along with ammunition, according to police.

    Officers did not fire any shots during the standoff, according to authorities. No officers or residents were injured.

    The male family member and girlfriend were taken to Gloucester Township Police headquarters for questioning. Authorities are still trying to determine how Glennon obtained the weapons.

    Police emphasized this was something that rarely happens.

    "We want the residents to know that this was an isolated incident and that the community is safe."

    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at bgallo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    The blaze was reported Saturday night at the Phily Diner & Sports Bar in Runnemede.

    A blaze broke out Saturday night at the Phily Diner & Sports Bar on South Black Horse Pike in Runnemede, according to social media reports.

    The fire was first reported shortly after 8 p.m.  

    A post on Runnemede Fire Co. No. 1's Facebook page said the fire was in the ceiling of the diner.

    Firefighters quickly brought the fire under control and the blaze is under investigation, according social media accounts.

    Photos show flames coming from the diner's roof.

    No injuries were reported.

    Along with Runnemede, companies from Bellmawr, Barrington, Chews Landing, Glendora, Gloucester City, Haddon Heights and Lawnside assisted on the call.

    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at bgallo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Trusted Links, a mentoring project in Camden, Trenton, and Newark, seeks to educate women about the risk factors that lead to infant mortality.

    When LaVonia Abavana was pregnant with the last of her three children, she was stressed and depressed, losing and gaining weight rapidly as she tried to balance parenting, a split from her partner and running a household. 

    Her son, who's now 9, was born with a birth defect: a heart murmur. He continues to suffer from Tourettes Syndrome.

    Abavana said she didn't understand how letting herself go could affect the health of her baby, after already carrying two healthy kids. That's why the 46-year-old woman was drawn to Trusted Links, a mentoring program in Camden under the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative (SNJPC) that seeks to educate women about infant mortality and the behaviors that contribute to it. 

    "I learned so much I didn't know about infant mortality," she said of her training. "I think it's a great program because in a poor environment, people don't always know how to stay healthy." 

    So she's spent the past two months out at a bus stop near H.B. Wilson Elementary School, talking to young parents as they drop their kids off or wait for a bus to get to work. As a Trusted Link, it's her job to quiz them on knowledge surrounding prenatal health and early parenting, and then teach them the importance of avoiding alcohol or drug use while pregnant, maintaining a healthy diet, seeking regular prenatal and having a support system to help them. 

    The project is one of three in the state, with the others in Trenton and Newark, cities where pregnant women and their babies are considered to be at high-risk for low birth rates and other complications that can lead to elevated rates infant mortality.  

    The state's infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the nation, at 4.8 deaths per 1,000 births, according to the New Jersey State Health Assessment Data. But that number is higher in the black community and triples in Camden alone, reaching 15 deaths for every 1,000 births between 2013 and 2015, according to the data.

    SNJPC has long noted the undue risk minority and low-income mothers face, and had attempted a similar program a few years ago, sending workers to nail salons, beauty parlors and other places women often go to educate the staff, hoping that staff would pass along the information to the women who frequent the businesses. 

    But last year, they had a new idea: cut out the middle man -- or in this case, woman. 

    "We decided to go directly to women themselves," said Barbara May, SNJPC's director of policy and program planning. "What we know is that, often, and this is true for all of us, when there's something we don't know about, we often go to people that we know and trust before we go to a physician or a nurse." 

    So far, that's worked. In three different training sessions in Camden, the organization ran through the facts with 50 women, and 50 more women were trained in programs in Trenton and Newark. Each women then had a duty to mentor 10 peers, friends, family and community members. 

    Bed-Sharing: 'The Last Goodnight' | An NJ.com Special Investigation

    That means the knowledge has reached at least 1,500 women in less than a year -- a number that will likely continue to grow. The Horizon Foundation, which granted the Trusted Links program $150,000 to operate in 2017, has recommitted to the same amount in 2018. 

    And some, like Abavana, have done even more. She estimates that she's spoken to 70 women, and has plans to continue this year as the program moves forward, coming to the Ferry Avenue Library in Camden or scoping out other spots to speak with new women. 

    Because for Abavana, the program is about more than just statistics. She thinks of her own son and of Facebook posts she sees mourning lost babies. And she thinks of a woman she shared a hospital room with while giving birth to her first child -- a woman whose baby died of complications with a sexually transmitted disease the mother didn't know she had. 

    "Some women are stuck in their culture, in what they were raised on," she said. "I just want to plant seeds, so they can plant seeds in their home." 

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The robbery occurred in Gloucester County.

    Tyriek J. Bullock Zaire Aumaitre.jpgAuthorities say Tyriek J. Bullock, 26, of West Berlin, (left) and Zaire Aumaitre, 28, of Camden, (right) conspired with Alicia Allen, 21, of Sicklerville, to rob a man in Woodbury. (Salem County Correctional Facility)
     

    A grand jury has indicted three people in connection with an armed robbery that began with the theft of a man's lunch.

    A handgun-toting bandit allegedly approached the manager of a business who was walking into his office on East Centre Street on the morning of Aug. 3, 2017. The gunman threatened the victim, grabbed a bag he was carrying and took off, according to police.

    When the gunman realized he had only taken the man's lunch, he darted back toward the victim, who was running into the business yelling for someone to call 911.

    The gunman entered the business and demanded the victim's other bag this time. The victim complied, turning over items including his wallet and iPad, police said.

    Another employee of the business saw the robbery and "was so terrified that she used her hands to break a window and attempted to flee the building," according to the police report. She suffered cuts to her hands, police said.

    The suspect fled with the victim's belongings in a vehicle driven by a woman.

    Winslow police later stopped that vehicle and the motorist, Alicia Allen, 21, of Sicklerville, confessed that she was the getaway driver. She identified Tyriek J. Bullock, 26, of West Berlin, as the gunman. Zaire Aumaitre, 28, of Camden, was identified as the lookout, police said.

    The trio allegedly targeted their victim because they knew it was pay day at the business, according to the criminal complaint.

    Allen picked up Bullock and Aumaitre in Camden, drove to Woodbury for the robbery, then dropped them off at different locations in Camden County, police said.

    All three were indicted last week on first-degree charges of robbery and second-degree conspiracy.

    Matt Gray may be reached at mgray@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us: nj.com/tips.

     

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    The incident occurred early Sunday morning.

    Fellow motorists rescued a man from his burning vehicle after he struck a tree early Sunday morning, fire officials reported.

    A man driving a Jeep Wrangler northbound on Interstate 295 near milepost 37 in Mount Laurel lost control of his vehicle, ran off the roadway and hit a tree just before 2 a.m., police said.

    Mount Laurel Fire Department responders found "civilians" and a paramedic crew working to remove the man from the Jeep as flames from the engine compartment entered the passenger area.

    The driver was removed and transported to Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

    One of those who assisted in the rescue was also transported with minor injuries, according to the fire department's post on Facebook.

    Fire officials praised efforts of those who stopped to help.

    "A special thanks goes out to those civilians who intervened, ultimately saving the driver's life," the department noted in its post.

    The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

    Matt Gray may be reached at mgray@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us: nj.com/tips.

     

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    The occupants escaped unharmed but a family house cat was reported missing, police said.

    Five people were displaced following a Sunday morning house fire in Winslow Township, officials said.

    Fire crews responded to Lennox Court in Sicklerville shortly before 7 a.m., where they encountered heavy flames on the first and second floors of one home, with flames extending to neighboring homes.

    All occupants escaped unharmed, but a firefighter was treated at the scene for a minor injury.

    Diamond.jpgDiamond was reported missing after fleeing a burning home in Sicklerville on Sunday. (Winslow Police Dept.)
     

    In addition to flames, crews battled freezing temperatures and icy conditions as they poured water on the blaze.

    The American Red Cross said it helped five people from three families displaced by the fire.

    The agency provided assistance with temporary lodging, food and clothing.

    The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

    Winslow police also reported that a family house cat ran off as everyone fled the flames. They shared a photo of the animal, named Diamond, on social media. Anyone who locates Diamond is asked to contact police at 609-567-0700.

    Matt Gray may be reached at mgray@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us: nj.com/tips.


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    Less than 36 hours away from his inauguration, Gov.-elect Phil Murphy ended the day Sunday jamming to Busta Rhymes in a gym at Middlesex County College. Watch video

    It felt like a homecoming.

    The setting was perfect for it -- a pitch dark gymnasium illuminated by strobe lights that danced to the blaring club music while people stood around waiting for the action to get started.

    And it was a homecoming, at least in a sense, for the people who helped Phil Murphy get elected and transition him into leading New Jersey. He thanked them all -- especially the millennials -- from the stage Sunday night. 

    Less than 36 hours away from his swearing-in as governor, Murphy ended the day jamming to Busta Rhymes in a gym at Middlesex County College in Edison.

    The concert capped a day of inaugural events that included a wreath laying at the Wildwood Veterans Memorial Wall and an event for children at the aquarium in Camden.

    Expo preview

    "We are incredibly humbled by the responsibility," Murphy, surrounded by his family members, said. "We know this job won't be easy. We will do it as a team as we always have. And we know while it won't be easy and it won't be overnight, that if we work together, we will get there.". 

    Murphy spent most of the evening on the sidelines, taking pictures with interested parties and tapping his foot to the music.

    He fed off the high-spirits of the event, coming on stage and doing one of those side kick/jumps.

    But what really got him energized, like the rest of the crowd, was when Rhymes (birth name Trevor George Smith Jr.) took to the stage.

    Busta Rhymes was one of a handful of performers who entertained those gathered at the "millenials concert" and rally.

    In the last song of Rhymes' set, the chorus is, "Jump, Jump."

    Between songs, Rhymes repeatedly sang Murphy's praises and encouraged those gathered in the crowd to celebrate that Murphy, a Democrat, would take the office.

    "I salute New Jersey for stepping up to the plate," Rhymes said.

    Murphy repeatedly used his time at the microphone to thank the members in his team and the elected officials who came out in the cold evening on Sunday to celebrate.

    He reiterated that he wanted to put together a team that is, "as diverse as this state, as diverse as the community we serve."

    Murphy upheld that commitment earlier in the day when he named Col. Jemal J. Beale as his appointment to lead the state's National Guard and Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs as Adjutant General. Beale is the first minority to lead the state's National Guard, according to Murphy's team.

    Murphy will be inaugurated at noon Tuesday, succeeding Gov. Chris Christie. An inaugural ball will be held on the field at MetLife Stadium that night.

    Sara Jerde may be reached at sjerde@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SaraJerde.

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    Dogs and cats throughout the state await adoption.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We accept dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at ghatala@starledger.com or call 973-836-4922.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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