Suspects in Paterson teen's shooting death were arrested hours later on lesser charges

  • In US
  • 2022-01-28 17:51:01Z
  • By The Bergen Record

Four hours after 18-year-old honor student Robert Cuadra was fatally shot last week, Paterson police detectives stopped a suspected stolen car in another part of the city and found two guns inside, officials said.

The three young men in the stolen Toyota Corolla were taken into custody on the night of Jan. 19 and held at the Passaic County Jail on the lesser charges for eight days until authorities on Thursday accused them of Cuadra's killing, according to authorities.

Authorities have not revealed whether the detectives already suspected that the men allegedly riding in the stolen car were involved in the Cuadra shooting. The killing happened at 6:30 p.m. on Godwin Avenue and the detectives pulled over the Corolla at 10:25 p.m. less than a mile away, near the corner of Bridge Street and Memorial Drive, police said.

The police department has street surveillance cameras scattered around the crime-plagued neighborhood where Cuadra was killed, officials acknowledged.

The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office issued a press release late Thursday night disclosing the murder charges - an announcement made less than 12 hours after Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. demanded at a police headquarters press conference that authorities get the "thugs" who killed Cuadra, a college-bound victim claimed by a stray bullet.

The prosecutor on Thursday night identified the suspects as Jaquin Williams, 19, from Paterson; Kahaz D. Heron, 18, from Clifton; and Jahed Jones, 19, from Paterson. Besides murder, they also were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and weapons possession, prosecutors said.

All three men are accused of firing gunshots in Cuadra's direction, according to the affidavits of probable cause that authorities filed against them. The documents also said that Cuadra was a stranger to the three men accused of the killing.

The affidavits cite ballistic evidence, recordings from surveillance cameras, statements made by the three suspects, as well as statements made by three people identified only by their initials. The court documents also say investigators seized three cellphones as part of the probe.

Law enforcement sources have said they are looking into the possibility that Cuadra - who was carrying groceries for his grandmother at the time - was killed in the crossfire of a street shootout. But authorities have not announced any arrests of anyone who may have been on the other side in a possible shootout.

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On the morning after Cuadra's death, the Paterson Police Department issued a press release about the arrests of Williams, Heron, and Jones in the stolen car case. The announcement made no mention of the homicide.

The press release said that detectives Suquan Gary, Levis Qirjako, and Luis Roca of the Special Investigations Division spotted the 2019 Corolla that was reported stolen the day before in Clifton while it was parked at a traffic light.

The detectives got out of their unmarked police vehicle and approached the Corolla on foot, the press release said. They then removed Williams, the driver, from the car along with his two passengers, police said.

The press release said the detectives then found a loaded Smith and Wesson .40 caliber, semi-automatic pistol and a Heckler and Koch .22 caliber semi-automatic "assault style" gun inside the car.

Court records provide additional details about the stolen car stop. The affidavits of probable cause said the detectives could not see inside the car because of its tinted window and walked to the Corolla with their guns drawn.

After getting the suspects out of the car. Lt. Richard LaTrechia found a bag on the floor of the front passenger seat containing one of the guns, the affidavits said. The other weapon was inside the rear seat pocket of the passenger side chair, the court records said.

Sgt. Michael McDonald checked the guns and found that the .40-caliber handgun had one bullet in its firing chamber and was loaded with nine other rounds, while the .22 caliber weapon had a bullet in the firing chamber and was loaded with 18 other rounds, the affidavits said.

This article originally appeared on Robert Cuadra shooting suspects arrested in Paterson NJ


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