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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.]

Michelle Cadeau April 23, 2011 at 07:13 PM
try this. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=132423274471#!/group.php?gid=132423274471&v=wall
k April 23, 2011 at 10:36 PM
I agree. I have been living in WO all my life and I noticed this too. You are right it, it has nothing to do with being black or white. I'm a minority, so to me it's definately not about race. It about making our neighborhoods safer and keeping WO the great town that it is. I hope they find the people who did this crime. My prayers go out to the victims family.
Jim April 23, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Kavorka, I luv ur screen name!!
Jim April 23, 2011 at 11:16 PM
See Gary what you don't understand is how liberating the web is in the sense that not everyone uses it for butt-kissing and coddling the local politicos. People can choose a name and express themselves freely with the ID. It is AWESOME!!! It is fun and if you read for content, educational.
Gary Englert April 23, 2011 at 11:25 PM
@ Portmanteau: There's nothing educational about content based on misninformation and ingorance and fidning anonymous slander of real human beings abhorent, and saying so isn't butt kissing or coddling anyone.I also note that people wh actually get off their asses and contribute t the greater good (like Michelle Cadeau) feel no need t hide behind a screen name.
Jim April 23, 2011 at 11:30 PM
We are really off topic here Gary, but I find you to be a very nice person with good intentions. You should feel proud of your service, but also open your eyes to the reality of West Orange life.
Gary Englert April 24, 2011 at 02:56 AM
@ Portmanteau: Not only are my eyes wide open, I'm not hiding behind a screen name or anything else. If you think something needs fixing there are ways to do it and posting anonymous nonsense on the Internet isn't simply isn't one of them. There isn't a single street in town that I wouldn't walk down alone at any time of the day or night and not feel perfectly safe. Crime can and does happen everywhere and we should all be be prudent about safeguarding ourselves and our property. You don't do yourself, your neighbor and the Township any good by damaging its reputation by spreading nonsense or exaggerating incidents that do happen. If therei s a problem that needs to be addressed, there are good people you can take it to who will do something about it.
Jim April 24, 2011 at 04:01 AM
I'll bet you were a name tag wherever you go Gary. Congrats. You ARE Gary. Yes. We have established that.
Gary Englert April 24, 2011 at 04:21 AM
@ Portmanteau: I actually DO have a couple of jackets that have my name either embroidered or imprinted on them (it's a military thing) and I've never had a reason to be ashamed of who I am and letting people know it.
Dana April 24, 2011 at 06:14 AM
Just out of curiosity why do some people get so upset when someone else has an opinion? I’m not changing mine, that’s it. They shouldn’t care. I certainly don’t care if they change theirs. With that…I have a life with real people offline, so I’m going to get to it and say no more. God bless you all, and God, bless America.
Gary Englert April 24, 2011 at 08:07 AM
@ Dana: People are certainly entitled to their opinions but, irresponsible opinion based on less than factual information or uncontrolled emotion can lead to chaos. We aren't that removed from irrational thought resulting in people being herded into concentration camps and mass extermination. And just why did that happen? Simple. Someobodyspread panic and convinced a country that the sky was falling and simultaneously came up with a scapegoat to blame it all on. Those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
Sandman April 24, 2011 at 11:49 AM
Bottom line is a young man is dead and YOU people are arguing about the same silly cr@p on every report. What a shame....Cops are this...administration that...Mr. Englert throws the BOVINE word out there...screen name yadda yadda. Poor boy isn't even in the ground yet and the "Usual Suspects" are already posting their inane banter. My prayers go out to the family. Especially on a day like today.
Gary Englert April 24, 2011 at 12:36 PM
@ Sandman: Posting your condolences, announcing you pray and revere Easter (all anonymously on an Internet message board) is as inane as anything else written here. The senseless loss of life and the tragedy was apparent to all from the first report and condolences are best delivered personally.
Sandman April 24, 2011 at 05:40 PM
You wanted it Mr. Englert..here I come! I am Sergeant Michael Mastras. I am a 17 year veteran of this so called Mickey Mouse police force as Dana has so dubbed us. I am highly offended by her statements. Though some of our officers are young, they are by no means inexperienced and are highly trained both through the Academy as well as additional classes and first hand experiences on the job. You learn to think fast and on your feet sometimes. I trust young officers like Jiroux, Bell, Cassels and the Krimmel brothers as well as experienced officers Jacksic, Faraone, Rippon and Berkery with MY life and yours. I work with great men and women who at the crack of the radio (as Sergeant Bolen stated in a different thread) are ready willing and able...to possibly lay down their lives for you and your families. If you see officers sitting in an area maybe you should take into consideration WE do not get scheduled lunches, breaks or down time. That 10 minutes you see an officer in a lot may be him either destressing from a hot call, having a coffee, or trying to scarf down a meal between radio transmissions. Can't tell you how many meals went flying off my seat or dash when that radio call came out. We continue to Protect and Serve. Always! FYI I will continue to pray whether its behind a screen name or not. And I have had to give my condolences to far too many families in the last 17 years so dont preach to me in that matter.
Gary Englert April 24, 2011 at 06:12 PM
@ Sandman: Kudos for identifying yourself as you've instantly made whatever you post far more credible as an identifiable source. You might consider permanently changing your screen name so as not to have your veracity called into question in the future by readers who have not seen this post. I have the greatest respect for people in your profession and enjoy warm and cordial relations with a great many past and present members of the department. I believe that the WOPD is a professional organization that is competently staffed and managed and, as indicated, think that Dana's comments are completely off the wall. The problem with the use of screen names (on the Internet) is that it does nothing less than spread the joint viruses of incivility and unsubstantiated nonsense. My comment to a unidentifiable person using a screen name (concerning condolences) was on point and completely germane; I would not have made the same observation to a Sergeant on the WOPD with 17 years of service.
niecy April 24, 2011 at 07:46 PM
This is terrible I lived in E Orange most of my life the crime is out of control .I moved out and glad I did.
specialagentwolfie April 25, 2011 at 03:29 AM
Gary.....E-NUFF ! Violent crime is abound in our town and it is undeniable. You can spout all you want about your the UCR , but those of us "on the job" know get the true sense of what is happening "on the street." P.S.- rumor has it u don't even live in town anymore
specialagentwolfie April 25, 2011 at 03:30 AM
Thanks Mike 4 identifying yourself. I hope there are no repercussions for being so brave
badbul April 25, 2011 at 03:41 AM
There was no money taken, no liquor, nothing that would indicate this was a robbery. It wasn't gang related. Maybe the shooting had something to do with this store that looked like a liquor store was really a DRUG STORE? Drug related?
Gary Englert April 25, 2011 at 11:49 AM
@ badbul: And you reached these conclusions how?
Sandman April 25, 2011 at 01:02 PM
@downthehill.....bravery has nothing to do with it. I am still proud every day I put on that uniform, and even prouder of the job I do and the men and women I work with. To hear the people I/WE have worked so hard to try and protect badmouth us is disheartening. But WE (WOPD) will continue to be there when the $h!t hits the fan as our skin is thicker than that. Currently I don't believe I violated any of the rules and regs/directives that are in place....but if I did I will take the "hit" for it.
Michelle Cadeau April 25, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Sandman, Not everyone in this community is bad mouthing you. I live right by the shooting and it is safe to say we have our challenges here BUT every time I call you guys (not calling 911 now) you will come and you will listen, set up a plan and work with us. The Officers at the Washington Substation feel like friends. We had a personal matter this summer that required PD assistance. let me tell you: The guys went beyond anything I have ever seen to make it right and to make my family feel safe. The WOPD is also amazing when it comes to 'community outreach' and has been coming out to events and things my boys school has had. I for one and many with me are grateful for what you and your fellow officers are doing. It takes special people being willing to themselves in the 'line of fire' so to speak. The shooting is sad and we now hope that the person responsible will be caught and also that there will be measures taken in our neighborhood so we don't have to deal with a situation like this again. The people complaining will complain regardless ... but to us you are heroes!
Arnett Rochelle April 25, 2011 at 05:32 PM
I Lived in that neighboorhood until 2001. right on whittlesey avenue the third house in from chestnut street. That neighborhood was bad back then. It stinks that someone had to pay with his life for the town to open their eyes about this neighborhood. I can remember the store getting held up when the two ladies owned it.
Celeste April 25, 2011 at 07:16 PM
In the early 1990's, we resided close to the vicinity of the liquor store, on Watson Avenue. We still reside in West Orange, but on the other side of the mountain. The neighborhood we moved from is a classic mix of Irish, Spanish, Italians, African-American, etc. everyone, regardless of race, get along just fine. But this killing of a store clerk is devestating. I can understand a robbery, but killing the clerk? My heart goes out to the family. I hope Michael that you and the boys find out who did this and that justice is served.
Tom G. April 26, 2011 at 01:08 AM
I always knew that place looked shady. I live about a mile from there and drive by quite often. There are always people just hanging out on that corner. One time a group stared me down as I drove by. And why would someone drive all the way from Hillside just to work at a liquor store for probably 8 bucks an hour?
Gary Englert April 26, 2011 at 01:27 AM
@ Michael: My ethnic background is German and Irish on my father's side and Italian on my mother's...and you're still far afield of the topic here.
Gary Englert April 26, 2011 at 02:58 AM
@ Michael: From our limited exchanges here, I rather doubt you've compiled enough data to determine what I "want or expect out of our government." While currently a registered Democrat (I've been a Republican, as well), I consider myself to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative and I don't simply vote along party lines but, for whom I happen to think is the best candidate. I'm also rather pragmatic about out political system and theink these periodic swings between liberal and conservative thought leave us just about where we should be: at the middle of the road.
Gary Englert April 26, 2011 at 08:19 AM
So I'm left to wonder how long the rest of Michael's off the reservation posts will remain before he deletes them?
Michael April 26, 2011 at 11:33 AM
as the song goes "stuck in the middle with you"
darlene verducci April 26, 2011 at 09:06 PM
you r right michelle, everyone is saying things. but the only thing that me and my family know is that he was a very nice man, well respectful always smiling. Michael knew the uncle since he was my kids age. and he is really upset about this matter. We where at the memorial lastnight but then again everyone is lighting candles and putting flowers and stuffed animals everyday. I just wish this stuff would end my kids r so scared.

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