EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBS 2/1010 WINS/WCBS 880) — East Orange Police made an arrest Monday night in the deadly shooting that took the life of a Seton Hall University sophomore.
At a press conference, police announced the arrest of 25-year-old Nicholas Welch, who lived near where the shooting occurred. Authorities said Welch was taken into custody Monday evening without incident. Welch is charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, among other charges. He is currently being held on $2 million bail.
Police are also looking for a second suspect — 19-year-old Marcus Bascus. Sonia Rincon of 1010 WINS reports that Bascus is facing the same charges as Welch — murder, conspiracy and weapons offenses.
Sophomore Jessica Moore, 19, described by friends as bright and athletic, was shot and killed early Saturday morning as she jumped in front of her friend at an off-campus house party on Clinton Street in East Orange.
Investigators said after Welch was reportedly kicked out for refusing to pay a cover charge, he came back and opened fire into the crowd, killing Moore and injuring four others.
“Apparently, he was upset that he had been thrown out of the party. With that he returned to the party with a gun and began randomly firing in the house,” acting Essex County District Attorney Robert Laurino said.
“It was scary,” said senior Shemeeka Greaves, who jumped out of a window to escape the gunfire. “It sounded like a stampede, and I was like ‘Oh my God.’ I didn’t know if people were getting run over, or whatever.”
Students Monday night were relieved that police had made an arrest.
“I’m glad they’re bearing down and finally catching somebody,” Paul Pellegrine told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.
“Absolutely there’s a sense of relief. Something’s being take care of that should be taken care of,” Sotiria Simeonidis said.
“I’m excited about it – that’s a good thing. And I hope they have the right person,” Annette Manso said.
Moore apparently died shielding her best friend Nakeisha Vanterpool, who was shot in the jaw.
“I wish no parent ever has to get a call like that,” her father, Leslie Vanterpool, said.
Nakeisha’s twin sister, Nicole, was at the party too and though she wasn’t injured she was covered in the blood of those who were hit.
“They didn’t know exactly what was going on, all they knew was that they were being shot at,” Mr. Vanterpool said. “They didn’t even know that it was somebody trying to crash the party.”
Vanterpool said his daughter was heartbroken over Moore’s death.
“Jessica died saving my daughter,” he said.
A woman who attended the party and survived explained what she saw to the Star-Ledger via text message, saying she has a bruise on her back from the shooter’s boot.
“I was literally the floor for the shooter,” she wrote. “He was standing on me.”
University officials said students were warned about the precautions they need to take when venturing into this and other surrounding neighborhoods. The fact of the matter is Seton Hall cannot protect them, and has no jurisdiction or patrol responsibilities, off campus.
Interim President Gabriel Esteban called the tragedy a “random, senseless act of violence” and told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that while the area was “relatively safe,” students needed to be “street smart” when venturing to off-campus parties.
Moore’s friends were stunned. “It really hurts a lot. Lots of people have been calling me hysterical, and I have been trying to stay strong,” said Brian Majors.
Kieth Manning said Moore, who was from Virginia, may have been lulled into a false sense of security as a student living on Seton Hall’s gated South Orange campus. “She probably felt safe going with all the Seton Hall students to a party off campus, but you know, I wasn’t there but I would have been more aware of my surroundings than she probably was.”
“It baffles my mind. How could it happen to her? How could it happen to someone who was so nice?” said Katie Schneider, high school softball coach.
“The kids today don’t realize how dangerous it is when you leave a secure environment,” Rufus Blake said.
Students CBS 2HD spoke with said it’s unrealistic to expect them to spend all of their time behind Seton Hall’s gates.
Grief counselors were on campus Monday to help students and professors cope with the violent death.