Investigation Continues into Shooting Death of Liquor Store Clerk
Police search for suspects
West Orange police and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office continued their investigation Saturday into the shooting death of a 28-year-old Hillside man Friday night.
James Wilson, a clerk at Chestnut Liquors in West Orange, was killed inside the store at 47 Chestnut St. around 9:30 p.m. The motive remains unclear, according to Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman with the prosecutor's office.
The liquor store remained cordoned off Saturday morning as family and friends stopped by to pay their respects, according to officials on scene. The passers-by, though, were not allowed to place flowers or candy at the storefront since the investigation is still ongoing.
Officials who chose to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation said there allegedly were witnesses inside the store during the shooting, but could not comment further.
West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi released a statement Saturday, offering his thoughts and prayers to the victim's family.
"This is a close-knit neighborhood and a tragedy like this affects the entire community. We are committed to keeping our community and all its residents protected, safe and secure," he said.
In a reverse 911 call to residents Saturday, Parisi said the township is working with the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and will not give up in the efforts to "bring the person or persons responsible for the killing at Chestnut Liquors." He urged anyone with information to notify the prosecutor's office immediately.
Meanwhile, residents in the neighborhood said the shooting raises their concern for safety.
"I have two kids and a wife, I don't need this," said Michael Verducci, 38, who said he frequents the store. "This is not good. This is ridiculous. I feel like they need the police back here."
Ana Santero, who lives on Whittlesey Avenue, was among the neighbors who were shaken by the scene. "I've been living here 30 years and I've never seen anything like this happen," she said. "I feel so bad."
Residents who said they knew Wilson, described him as "outgoing" and "mellow" and expressed shock at the shooting. Some family members and friends gathered at the scene Saturday night to place flowers and other items. One woman, who gave her name only as "Ebone," was seen crying.
At the scene Friday night, a man was heard crying in anguish that his nephew worked inside the store. Other family members rushed the scene, but were held back by police. They were embracing and weeping. A woman could be heard saying, "That's my baby. What happened? Is he OK?"
The store is on the first floor of a two-story brick building. The incident is in a neighborhood of West Orange that is mixed residential and commercial.
Officials said they currently have no suspects.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call the Essex County Prosecutor's Office tips hotline at 1-877-TIPS-7432 (1-877-847-7432) or the West Orange Police Detective Bureau at (973) 325-4000. All information will be kept confidential.