PATERSON — Three men have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of scholarship recipient Robert Cuadra as he was delivering groceries to his grandmother on Jan. 19.

The 18-year-old honor student at Harp Academy was found lying on the sidewalk around 6:30 p.m. that night and was pronounced dead at Saint Joseph’s University Medical Center.

Paterson Education Commissioner Emanuel Capers said he was killed by a stray bullet.

Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdez said Jaquin Williams, 19, and Jahed Jones, 19, both of Paterson and Kahaz D. Heron, 18, of Clifton, "took part in the shooting and were responsible for the murder of Mr. Cuadra."

They are being held at the Passaic County Jail on first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose and second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun in addition to the murder charge.

Valdez did not disclose the circumstances of the shooting. Witnesses said Cuadra was hit in the head by one of at least 16 shots fired during a gun battle between two men.

(L-R) Jaquin Williams, Jahed Jones, Kahaz D. Heron
Jaquin Williams, Jahed Jones, Kahaz D. Heron (Passaic County Prosecutor's Office)
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Pascrell demands arrest

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. 9th District, announced a $7 million investment in gunshot detection technology and other law enforcement equipment to reduce gun violence using federal American Rescue Plan funds.

"By the weekend we should have them in hand. No later. There is no important issue than we get these thugs off the street," Pascrell said Thursday as he pounded on the podium.

A bright future

Cuadra was going to attend Montclair State on a full scholarship in the fall through the Give Back Scholarship Program. He was already part of the school's Upward Board program.

"Mr. Cuadra was a great young man, full of ambition and drive. He was recently accepted into Montclair State and was excited to officially join the Red Hawk family as a first-generation college student," the program wrote on its Facebook page.

A GoFundMe page created by Cuadra's aunt is accepting donations for a stone for his gravesite.

Rep. Bill Pascrell speaks at a event in Paterson announcing new technology for New Jersey police
Rep. Bill Pascrell speaks at a event in Paterson announcing new technology for New Jersey police (Rep. Bill Pascrell)
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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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