Wantage Township, NJ – Hamburg Police Department (HPD) Officer Jason “Jay” Franco died on Dec. 8, after he was unintentionally shot while hunting with a family member.
Officer Franco, 38, was out hunting in the area of Havens Road when he was hit by a shotgun round that was unintentionally fired by a juvenile, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) told the New Jersey Herald.
He succumbed to his wounds at the scene.
DEP and New Jersey State Police (NJSP) said the officer’s death was an accident, according to the New Jersey Herald.
The identity of the juvenile family member who fired the fatal round has not been released.
“He had endless energy and ambition and boundless promise. He was such an all-around (great) person,” Rev. Dan Gepford said during the veteran officer’s funeral service, according to the New Jersey Herald. “And then to be gone so young, it’s just doesn’t make sense and doesn’t seem fair.”
Gepford read a letter written by Officer Franco’s family, in which they wrote that he “just wanted to help people.”
“That’s just who he was,” they said.
Officer Franco was working as a hazardous materials technician for the Sussex County HAZMAT team when he first started working a security officer in Hamburg, according to his obituary.
He was later hired by the William Paterson University Police Department before joining the HPD in 2018.
In addition to his work as a law enforcement officer, Officer Franco also served as a Delaware Township volunteer firefighter and was a 15-year member of the Montague Fire Department, according to his obituary.
“Jay loved his family, enjoyed hunting, and was a proud fire fighter and law enforcement officer,” the tribute read.
Officer Franco leaves behind his wife, Michelle, as well as his sons, Kyle and Jase.
He is also survived by his mother, siblings, grandparents, in-laws, and many friends and extended family members, according to his obituary.
A fundraising campaign established to help his family in the wake of their loss has raised over $47,000 so far.
Officer Franco was laid to rest on Monday.
Our condolences go out to Officer Jason Franco with the Hamburg PD in Sussex County. Officer Franco was killed in a off duty hunting accident in Wantage. RIP Sir. #Sussexcounty #hamburgpolice #hamburgnj #wantage pic.twitter.com/FJVxE7sKU9
— WestNJFireAlerts (@fire_nj) December 9, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hamburg Police Department Officer Jason “Jay” Franco, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.