Joanne Chesimard, who killed a New Jersey cop 40 years ago today, then escaped
prison and fled to Cuba, has been labeled a terrorist and had a $2 million bounty put on her by the FBI, authorities said
Chesimard was serving a life term for killing a New Jersey
state trooper in 1973 when she escaped prison. After hiding out in a New Jersey safe house for several years, Chesimard managed
to flee in 1979 to Cuba, where she has been living for decades under the name Assata Shakur.
"Joanne Chesimard is a domestic terrorist,"
Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark division, said at a press conference Thursday. "She absolutely
is a threat to America."
member of the radical Black Liberation Army, shot and killed New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster execution-style on May
2, 1973, after she and two others were pulled over for a routine traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, about an hour south
of New York City.
Chesimard, 26 at the time, was already known
by the FBI for her involvement in the Black Panther movement. She had changed her name to Shakur and was now a leader of the
Black Liberation Army — one of the most violent militant black organizations of the 1970s. She was wanted in connection
with a string of felonies, including bank robberies in New York.
being pulled over by the troopers, Chesimard, who was in the passenger seat, pulled out her semi-automatic pistol and fired
the first shot. The passenger in the rear seat, James Coston, then fired multiple shots before he was killed by trooper James
Harper. As Harper sought cover, Chesimard stepped out of the car and continuously fired at both him and Foerster, who was
engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Clark Squire, the driver.
was shot in the abdomen and right arm. According to police accounts, Chesimard picked up Foerster's gun and put two bullets
in his head, execution-style, as he lay along the side of the turnpike. Authorities say her jammed handgun was found next
to Foerster's body.
Chesimard, Coston and Squire fled and
abandoned their car 5 miles down the road. It didn't take long for police to locate the car and Coston, who was found
dead near the vehicle. A half-hour after the shooting, state police arrested Chesimard. Squire was arrested a mile from the
car about 40 hours after the incident.