Italian American Police Society of New Jersey

2012 – Valor Awards


Detective Richard Nicoletti
Police Officer Michael Ruggier
Parsippany Police Department
On Friday, October 14, 2011, at approximately 4:43 PM, the Morris County Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call reporting shots fired at Exit Realty Gold Services located at 100 Route 46 East, Building A, Mountain Lakes, New Jersey.  The caller reported that the receptionist was slumped over her desk and may have been shot.  Subsequent to the initial 9-1-1 call, the New Jersey State Police received a 9-1-1 call from a male caller claiming he just killed someone at that location and stated he was “armed and dangerous.”  The male caller, later determined to be the shooter, Leonardo Parera, advised the dispatcher to send the police and that he was prepared to “shoot at anyone who approaches the car.”  In response to this call, police officers from Mountain Lakes, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Denville Township, and Boonton Township responded.  Detective Richard Nicoletti and Patrolman Michael Ruggier of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department were among the initial officers to arrive at the scene.  On their arrival, the police officers encountered the suspect who was occupying a vehicle in a parking lot adjacent to Exit Realty Gold Services.  As the officers took up a tactical positions the suspect began firing in their direction and at other police officers as they arrived on scene.  Parare was given several verbal commands to cease firing and the opportunity to surrender.  He ignored these commands and fired multiple times in the direction of Detective Nicoletti and Patrolman Ruggier.  Simultaneously, Detective Nicoletti and Patrolman Ruggier, along with officers from other police agencies, returned fire eliminating the threat.  For their actions on October 14, 2011 the Italian-American Police Society of New Jersey is proud to present our Valor Award to Det. Richard Nicoletti  and Police Officer Michael Ruggier.


Police Officer Rachel Morgan
Police Officer Ryan Hayo
Paramus Police Department
On February 6, 2011 at 23:05 hours Police Officer Rachel Morgan was patrolling on Rt. 17 South in Paramus in a marked police vehicle when she observed a vehicle swerve towards her. A check of that vehicles registration revealed that the plates did not belong to the vehicle.   By this time the driver of this vehicle noticed Officer Morgan looking in his direction and he immediately increased his speed in an attempt to create distance between himself and the officer.  Officer Morgan notified headquarters of the event and that she was pursuing the vehicle at a high rate of speed on Rt. 17 South.  The vehicle continued at a high rate of speed until it skidded off the roadway and came to rest in a snow bank when attempting to exit onto the Garden State Parkway.  Officer Morgan notified headquarters of the location, exited her vehicle and immediately took a tactically defensive position with her sidearm pointed at the suspect.  She ordered the suspect repeatedly to shut the car off and show his hands, but he ignored her and attempted to release his vehicle from the snow bank by accelerating aggressively. Police Officer Ryan Hayo arrived on the scene to assist.At this time Office Morgan Officer Morgan began to approach the suspect who was still attempting to dislodge the vehicle and when she reached the door the suspect produced a handgun and fired at her from a distance of three feet. Officer Morgan immediately began to retreat in an attempt to get to cover but was struck three times, with two rounds entering her torso under her ballistic vest.  Officer Hayo immediately advanced towards the suspect and began to return fire.  Officer Morgan, while lying wounded on the ground, placed herself on her right side and continued to return fire with her left hand until her weapon was empty and began to reload.  Officer Hayo, who continued to engage the suspect, was able to reach Officer Morgan and take a protective position over her.  At this point in time there was no more firing coming from the suspect’s vehicle. Officer Hayo maintained his position until additional officers arrived to cover Officer Morgan, and then he advanced on the suspect’s vehicle and ascertained he was unresponsive. The suspect subsequently died as a result of wounds received during engagement.Officer Morgan was treated at the scene and a local trauma center where she underwent immediate surgery in order to save her life.  She was unconscious for 4 days and spent 1 week in Surgical ICU at HUMC, 1 week in a stepdown room of ICU at HUMC and 2 weeks at a rehabilitation center. Officer Morgan has since returned to full-duty to what she calls her “dream job” as a police officer with the Paramus Police Department. For their actions on February 6, 2011 the Italian-American Police Society of New Jersey is proud to present our Valor Award to Police Officer Rachel Morgan and Police Officer Ryan Hayo.


Detective Michael Morgan – Medal of Honor Posthoumously
Newark Police Department
Michael Morgan was raised in Belleville, where he attended St. Peter’s elementary school. At school he was involved in many extracurricular activities including; playing baseball and basketball and being an altar server.  As a child he shared the same hobbies as most other kids his age, but what he loved most was going on weekend hunting trips with his Dad.  After graduating from St. Peter’s, he attended Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington.  In high school he was as outstanding multi-sport athlete who excelled at every level of competition. As a sophomore, he competed at the Junior Olympics in Iowa, where he won a gold medal in Powerlifting.  In his junior and senior years his athletic ability really began to shine. He was a star football player and co-captain of the team while playing the middle linebacker and fullback positions.  In his senior year he received all league honors and was chosen to play in the prestigious North/South football game. He was recruited to play football by many colleges and universities from across the country. He decided to attend New Jersey City University because of its Criminal Justice program.  His passion for football continued into his college career and he was once again a team and star player. He started all four years and was a standout player on both offense and defense. After college it was time for him to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a police officer.  After graduating the Newark Police Academy in 2005 he was assigned to the Second precinct. He then moved on to the Auto Theft Task Force where he first started to realize the positive impact his work was having on the community.  In 2006 he was promoted to detective and became part of the Criminal Gang Intelligence Unit. He was with the gang unit for four years until 2010, when he was transferred to the Street Crimes Task Force. During his six years with the Newark police Department, Detective Morgan was the recipient of numerous awards and citations.  Because of his hard work and dedication he was promoted to the Special Investigations Unit where he was scheduled to begin working on the day he was killed.  His work and investigative skills were featured of the Sundance Channel’s “Brick City” as well as national Geographic’s “Drugs Inc.”  He was an integral member of this past summer’s Safe City program and was personally responsible for getting dozens of illegal guns off the streets of Newark.