JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The son of the local fire chief was shot in the back of the head and killed in the middle of a Jersey City street early Thursday, and police were on the prowl hours later for the perpetrator.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, Jersey City police were dispatched around 3:45 a.m. Thursday to 117 Fulton Ave., where they found the Darcel Rivers, 35, with a gunshot wound to his head. Rivers was rushed to Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, where he was pronounced dead at 4:15 a.m., police said.

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“He loved his kids. I know that for a fact,” said Crawford Hazelwood of Jersey City. “That’s one thing about him – he loved his kids.”

Rivers, of Providence, Rhode Island, had been staying with his children at his mother’s house on Fulton Avenue. After spending the evening with his friends, he was just a block away from the house near the corner of Fulton Avenue and Van Cleef Street when police said he was robbed of his phone and money.

The suspects fled after fatally shooting him in the head, police said.

“I did hear gunshots. I did hear them,” said Ruby Gardner of Jersey City.

Gardner, a neighbor of Rivers’ mother’s, said she went outside about half an hour after she heard the shots and saw Rivers, motionless, on the sidewalk.

“His face was up. His face was up,” Gardner said. “His hat was pushed back, and I saw the hole in his head, so I made the phone call. I stepped up. I talked to the police.”

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Responding officers were shocked to learn that the Jersey City murder hits way too close to home.

Rivers is the son of Jersey City Fire Chief Darren E. Rivers. CBS2 was invited inside fire headquarters, where the mood somber as colleagues said off camera they are praying for their chief and his family.

Back at Rivers’ mother’s house, CBS2’s Carlin spoke to Rivers’ sister, who said her family was too distraught to make any public comments.

Friends said the violence must stop.

“Senseless — basically that’s what it is,” Hazelwood said. “You robbed him, he gave you everything – then why you continue doing it?”

In the immediate area where the shooting happened, there did not appear to be any surveillance cameras. The suspect or suspects responsible for the shooting remained on the loose late Thursday.

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Anyone with information on the incident was asked to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit at (201) 915-1345, or by email at