Teen arrested for the shooting of 9-year-old girl in Newark, police blame heat, pandemic

NEWARK, NJ – Two people have been arrested for the shooting of a 9-year-old girl in Newark’s Winona Lipman Apartment Complex, one is a 15-year-old girl. The shooting left the young girl with two gunshot wounds to her foto and calf. Newark’s Public Safety director suspects the summer heat and the COVID-19 pandemic may have been a factor in the shooting.

Newark Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara reports that police have arrested Nazir Cruz, 22, and a 15-year-old female, both of Newark, in connection with the shooting of a 9-year-old child that occurred on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

“I commend the unrelenting investigation efforts of the Newark Police Shooting Response Team in identifying the second suspect in this senseless shooting,” Director O’Hara said. “Apprehending Cruz is the result of intensive, round-the-clock detective work with the singular aim of keeping our communities safe and hold those who cause harm accountable.”

Just before 5:25 p.m., police responded to the 400 block of Holiday Court, located in the Wynona Lipman Gardens Apartment Complex, on a call of a shooting. Responding officers located a 9-year-old girl who had sustained two gunshot wounds, one to her left calf and one to her right foot.

The victim was transported to University Hospital for treatment and is reportedly in stable condition. The incident followed a quarrel that became a physical altercation between the injured girl’s 16-year-old sister and a 15-year-old female.

The juvenile female suspect entered the victim’s home, along with Cruz, who fired a handgun at the victim, her mother, a 19-year-old sibling, a 16-year-old sibling, and a 15-year-old male visitor while inside the residence.

Cruz, who was arrested today, faces five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, conspiracy, and burglary. The 15-year-old female suspect was arrested near the scene on June 30th while wearing an electronic monitoring ankle-bracelet resulting from an arrest for her role in a June 7th carjacking in Newark.

She also faces five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, conspiracy, and burglary. These charges are merely accusations. Each suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

“It is tragic that a dispute between two teenagers led to a young child being shot,” Director O’Hara said. “I am thankful that her injuries are non-life-threatening. But this incident speaks to the dilemma facing communities all over the country this summer, after children have been away from the structure of their classrooms for the past 15-months due to the pandemic. The economic and social effects of the pandemic are having an impact on violence all over the across our country.“

Nationwide, there has been a huge increase in the proliferation of firearms, purchased both legally and illegally. Members of the Newark Police Division have recovered over 300 illegal firearms so far this year, representing a 58 percent increase over the number of illegal firearms recovered during the same period in 2020.

“The arrest of the 15-year-old girl wearing a monitoring bracelet highlights the need to ensure that young people immediately released after committing a violent crime must be actively monitored in partnership with law enforcement and provided support through social services,” Director O’Hara said. “That’s why I’m thankful that Mayor Baraka established the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery—the first of its kind in the State—to work with law enforcement to fill this gap with a goal of preventing further acts of violence.”

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