EAST ORANGE, N.J. (AP) — A man who was denied access to a private party at an apartment near Seton Hall University left and returned with a handgun, fatally shooting a university student and wounding four people, sending screaming partygoers rushing out the door and climbing out windows.
Seton Hall student Jessica Moore, 19, died from her injuries at 3:20 p.m. Saturday, said Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Moore had been hospitalized in critical condition after the shooting just before 12:20 a.m.
The other four victims were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, but one has since been released, said East Orange Police Sgt. Andrew Di Elmo.
Di Elmo says the victims did not know the shooter, who fled from the apartment on foot. Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s capture.
Police said that in addition to Moore, two of the other victims are both 19-year-old female students at Seton Hall, and one is a 25-year-old male student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The fifth victim is a 20-year-old man from New York City who is not a student.
The university’s interim president, Gabriel Esteban, said Moore was a sophomore honors student from Disputanta, Va., majoring in psychology. During a news conference on campus, Esteban, who appeared to be on the verge of tears, said he had been with the students’ families in the hospital all day.
“It’s a call no parent wants to get,” he said.
Police were not releasing the other victims’ names because the shooter remains at-large, Di Elmo said.
A man who said he had stopped by the party told The Star-Ledger of Newark that he was in the kitchen and heard people shouting in the living room when a shot rang out. The man declined to give his full name to the newspaper because he feared for his safety.
More shots were fired as the panicked crowd stampeded toward the back of the house to try to escape, the man said. He told the newspaper he went back into the house as police arrived and saw one of the victims lying on the floor.
The apartment is located at 564 South Clinton Street in East Orange, less than a mile from the university. Well-kept row homes line the street, but a main cross street leads to a tougher part of town.
Police cruisers and orange cones blocked traffic on the street where the shootings happened.
An electronic highway sign propped up down the street offered a reward for information and gave a tip line phone number.
Mary Williams, a 59-year-old retiree who lives next door, said she was in bed when she heard the gunshots, and she called 911.
“I seen people scattering, climbing out the window, trying to get out the front door, back windows, a lot of hollering and screaming,” Williams said in a telephone interview.
A number of people who fled the house sought refuge at a White Castle restaurant down the street, said Vanie Estime, an employee there.
“I was doing the drive-in and I heard screaming through my headset,” she told The Associated Press.
The university planned a community prayer service Saturday at 9 p.m. to “support the Seton Hall students and their families affected by this morning’s shooting in East Orange,” according to a notice posted on the school’s website.
Additionally, the school’s Department of Public Safety urged students to “travel in groups when walking off campus.”
Seton Hall, a private Catholic university in nearby South Orange, about 15 miles west of New York City, enrolls about 10,000 students.