Milford in mourning: Councilman Russell D. Heller shot and killed in Franklin by former co-worker Gary T. Curtis

Russell D. Heller, a Republican Milford (NJ) councilman, was shot and killed yesterday in an apparent murder-suicide case. He was the second politician assassinated in that state in just a week, after the young Eunice Dwumfour (30), shot inside her car

Russell D. Heller, a Republican councilman from Milford, a small borough in New Jersey’s Hunterdon County, was shot to death yesterday in a case of apparent homicide-suicide.

He was the second Republican councilman killed in New Jersey in just one week, after young Eunice Dwumfour (30), who was shot Wednesday, February 1, inside her car in front of her home in Sayreville (Middlesex County) and whose gunman has not yet been identified.

The two murders do not appear to be related. Heller, 51, was reportedly shot by Gary T. Curtis (58), a former co-worker, who then fled the scene and drove to Bridgewater, where he committed suicide, reported.

Heller was fatally shot in front of PSE&G Somerset Central Division headquarters in Franklin town. Authorities said Curtis was a former employee of that energy company.

The deceased was a senior distribution supervisor for the company and was pronounced dead at the scene. Curtis, a resident of Washington (NJ) in Warren County, was identified as the suspect in the shooting and located at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday, inside a car, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office said. A motive for the homicide is unclear.

The loss deeply saddens the Milford Town Council, and our hearts go out to his family,” Milford Mayor Henri Schepens said of Heller. “He was so full of life; it’s unbelievable that he’s gone. Something like this has never happened in the history of the township. We’re very shocked by this.

New Jersey Republican Congressman Tom Kean Jr. shared his condolences for the councilman on social media last night. “I am shocked and saddened by the tragic murder of Milford Councilman Russell Heller,” Kean wrote. “Russell was an outstanding public servant who proudly represented the riverside city he loved. My prayers are with his family and the Milford community.”

Zachary T. Rich, director of the Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners, said he and other members were in shock and grief after learning of Heller’s death.

“Russell was a dedicated and valued member of the Milford and Hunterdon County community, whose leadership and commitment we will miss greatly,” Rich commented. “More importantly, however, Russell was a loving and caring father to his daughter and a dedicated and loyal friend to all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.”