Union County Man Shot Dead at Liquor Store
Investigation still ongoing
A 28-year-old Hillside man was shot to death while working at Chestnut Liquors around 9:30 Friday night.
The Essex County Prosecutor's Office confirmed that a store clerk named James Wilson was killed inside the liquor store at 47 Chestnut St. Neighbors and friends said he was commonly known as "Tariq." His age was also given as 25, but that was unconfirmed.
No details were immediately available about who may have shot Wilson or whether anyone else was inside the store when the killing occurred. Police had cordoned off Chestnut Street between Watson and Whittlesey avenues for more than two hours 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?"
Police were called to the liquor store shortly after 9:30 p.m. A 14-year-old boy who lives in the area, but was not identified because he is a juvenile, told reporters he heard shots being fired while he was at nearby Colgate Park. A short time later, he said he saw police swarm the area.
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 in the area, who said they knew Wilson, described him as "outgoing" and "mellow" and expressed shock at the shooting.
West Orange Councilman Victor Cirilo arrived at the scene about an hour after the incident. "Your heart goes out to the family of the victim," he said. "We have to do what we can to bring the neighborhood together so that this situation doesn't repeat itself."
Detectives from the prosecutor's office arrived on the scene around 10:30 p.m. An ambulance from the West Orange First Aid Squad was previously in the area, but left without turning on its siren.
The store is is on the first floor of a two-story brick building. Illuminated signs could still be seen in the store's windows.
The incident is in a neighborhood of West Orange that is mixed residential and commercial.
Officials said they currently have no suspects.
— Joshua Wilwohl contributed to this report.
[Editor's note: This article first published April 22 at 10:29 p.m.]