NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Authorities charged two men Friday in the fatal shooting of a college junior during a burglary at his fraternity house as officials insisted students are safe in New Jersey’s largest city despite the slayings of two college students in the last month.
New Jersey Institute of Technology student Joseph Micalizzi was killed early Monday at the Tau Kappa Epsilon house during a burglary attempt that turned violent, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said. The 23-year-old Freehold resident was a mechanical engineering major.
Murray on Friday announced murder, burglary and weapons charges against 18-year-old Irvington resident Nafee Cotman, who was arrested Thursday in Irvington and is being held on $1 million bail. Authorities are still searching for 22-year-old Newark resident Taquan Harris, who faces the same charges.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Cotman had an attorney to comment on his behalf.
The prosecutor’s office also announced charges against suspects in two other slayings that occurred in Newark last week. Newark, a city of 280,000 people, has seen its murder rate rise steadily since it hit a decade low of 67 in 2008. More than 90 people have been killed in the city in each of the last three calendar years, including 111 in 2013.
NJIT President Joel Bloom insisted that the campus is safe and that about half the school’s 60-person public safety squad is academy-trained and carries firearms.
“I’ve been here 25 years, and this is the first time I’ve had to deal with a murder on our campus,” he said.
Murray said Micalizzi was in his bedroom when he was shot. She said the suspects didn’t know him and targeted the fraternity at random because they were seeking cash.
Micalizzi’s fraternity is across the street from the Rutgers-Newark campus, near where a Rutgers student was killed in a double shooting last month that left his friend injured. Authorities have charged a 25-year-old Newark man in the April 10 attack.
Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said Friday that the city enhanced its presence on the NJIT campus this week.
NJIT is located in downtown Newark and has about 11,000 students who mainly pursue degrees in science and technology.
“NJIT is a safe campus. It is always bustling with people and activity, and it’s one of the best institutions we have in the state of New Jersey and we’re proud of it,” Mayor Ras Baraka said Friday. “We’re going to do what we can in combination with the NJIT police department and all the other forces to make sure young people are safe.”
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