3 arrested in shooting death of innocent honor student in New Jersey

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) — Three teenagers are now facing murder charges in New Jersey for the death of 18-year-old Robert Cuadra.

Jaquin Williams, 19, Kahaz D. Heron, 18, and Jahed Jones, 19, are all from Paterson and were all arrested Thursday.

All three defendants are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a handgun.

Police say Cuadra was an innocent 18-year-old who was struck by a stray bullet while carrying groceries to his grandmother’s home on Jan. 19.

A vigil celebrating his life was held last week at the library where he went to school. Cuadra’s classmates and school staff reflected on his short life.

He was remembered as a dedicated student at HARP Academy who cared for his family and friends, a hard-working, polite, humble and intelligent young man.

At HARP Academy, he was an honors student who took classes at Rutgers University through the district’s dual enrollment program.

“We all mourn the loss of this incredible young man with a tremendously bright future,” principal Kelli White said. “Everyone loved Robert. There are no words. He will be missed.”

He was months away from attending his dream school, Montclair State University, on a full scholarship.

“He didn’t deserve a bullet to the head,” his mom Ivernis Santiago said while clutching his college acceptance letter. “He didn’t deserve that at all. He was a good kid.”

During his three and half years at HARP Academy, Cuardra was an active member of the Interact Club, he participated in numerous service projects including Breast Cancer and March of Dimes walks, canned food and clothing drives, Habitat for Humanity-home construction, Leukemia/Lymphoma-coin collection, and The Heifer International Project.

He enjoyed boxing and he recently was teaching himself to play the guitar.

Cuadra worked at a well-known catering hall in Paterson, and his mother wants the world to know he was a good kid who deserved so much better.

“He was born and raised here,” she said. “He was born at St. Joe’s Hospital. He died at St. Joe’s Hospital.”

The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office asks anyone with additional information about the incident to call the tips line at 1-877-370-PCPO or [email protected] or contact the Paterson Police Detective Bureau at 973-321-1120.

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