Trio charged with murder of honorary Paterson student, 18

Three men have each been charged with murder in a street shooting that killed an innocent Paterson honor student while carrying groceries for his grandmother.

Jaquin Williams and Jahed Jones, both 19, of Paterson, and Kahaz D. Heron, 18, of Clifton remained in custody at the Passaic County Jail following an intense and furious investigation into the murder of Robert Cuadra, 18 years old.

Cuadra was hit by a bullet that was part of no less than 16 bullets that authorities say were fired on Godwin Avenue around 6:30 p.m. on January 19.

Responding officers found the fatally injured teenager on the sidewalk outside his home. An ambulance took him to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Authorities initially said Cuadra was hit by a stray bullet. However, in addition to the murder and weapons charges, Williams, Jones and Heron were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Passaic County District Attorney Camelia M. Valdes and Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora did not explain the conspiracy charge in a brief joint statement released Thursday evening.

They also did not say what they believed to be the motive, or whether any of the defendants may have been shooting themselves.

All they said was that Williams, Heron and Jones “participated in the shooting and are responsible for the murder of Mr. Cuadra”.

All three were “charged without incident” on Thursday, Valdes and Baycora said without using the word “arrest.” This could mean that one or all of them were already in detention.

Cuadra, who attended Paterson’s Harp Academy of Health Science, had just received a full scholarship to Montclair State University.

“He was nice, well brought up,” his aunt, Angelica Campos. “He was a big brother/father to his siblings.”

The circumstances of the young man’s death “speak to his character and add to the bitterness of his estrangement,” Schools Superintendent Paterson said. said Eileen F. Shafer. (The story continues below.)

“Robert Cuadra was a dedicated student who looked forward to beginning the next chapter of his college life this fall,” Shafer said.

Cuarda attended classes at Rutgers University through the district’s dual enrollment program, the superintendent noted. He was hard-working, polite, humble and intelligent, with “a cooperative and sincere spirit”, she said.

“Robert was always willing to help others,” Shafer said. “He has truly embraced the HARP Academy motto, ‘Service Above Self’.

Cuadra has been involved in various service projects in Paterson, including Breast Cancer and March of Dimes Walks, canned food and clothing drives, building Habitat for Humanity homes, collecting coins for the leukemia/lymphoma and The Heifer International Project, she said.

He also held a full-time job.

“During his freshman year of high school, Robert earned a full college scholarship, which included room and board through the Give Back scholarship program,” the superintendent noted. “Robert was an Upward Board student at MSU and was looking forward to attending school in the fall.”

Cuadra loved boxing and recently learned to play the guitar, she said.

“The hearts of everyone in (the district) are broken by the violent loss of this promising young man,” Shafer said. “We pray that Robert’s aunt, grandmother, mother and the rest of his family will find comfort during this most difficult time. May we all resolve to end the senseless violence that has taken so many good people like Robert.”

Campos has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help Ivernis Santiago and Robert Cuadra get a headstone “as beautiful as he is” for their son’s grave.

DONATE: Help send my nephew back where he deserves (GoFundMe)

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