Crossfire Kills NJ Honors Student Who Earned Full College Scholarship
PATERSON — An honors student who was set to attend college with a full scholarship was gunned down by deadly crossfire while bringing groceries to his grandmother on Wednesday night.
A bullet struck Robert Cuadra on Goodwin Avenue around 6:30 p.m. He was pronounced dead at Saint Joseph’s University Medical Center.
Police told ABC 7 Eyewitness News that Cuadra was hit in the head by one of at least 16 shots fired during a gun battle between two men.
"Robert was bringing groceries inside of his house when he was hit by a stray bullet. What a tragedy. My heart is heavy," Paterson Education Commissioner Emanuel Capers wrote on his Facebook page.
His aunt, Angelica Campos, wrote on a GoFundMe page that he was bringing groceries to his grandmother when he was shot.
"He was a kind, well raised, he was just granted a full scholarship to college and had a full-time job. He was a big brother/father to his siblings," Campos wrote.
The commissioner said Cuadra attended Harp Academy, a public high school with a program of studies for students interested in health professions. He was active in many service projects including the March of Dimes and efforts to fight breast cancer.
Paterson schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer said that as a freshman, Cuadra earned a full college scholarship through the Give Back Scholarship Program.
He had been accepted to Montclair for the 2022-23 academic year and was already part of the school's Upward Board program. He was also taking classes at Rutgers through the district’s dual enrollment program.
'He wasn't a street kid, he wasn't a violent kid'
Climbing out of poverty
"My heart is still hurting. Yesterday we lost an 18-year-old with a very promising future," Mayor Andre Sayegh wrote on his Facebook page. "Tragically, he was caught in the crossfire of senseless gun violence. I spoke with his mother last night and assured her that my office is here to support her as she grieves the loss of her son. Please pray for her."
Friends and family signed a sheet hung on the porch of his home on Thursday night and remembered him as being focused on his school work.
"He wasn't a street kid, he wasn't a violent kid, he was a natural, good, innocent kid," his cousin Carlos Traverso Jr. told ABC 7 Eyewitness News.
His aunt Kiera Jimenez said that the scholarship was his way out of the poverty and violence he grew up in although he had not yet settled on a major.
No arrests have yet been made in the shooting. Valdes asked anyone with information about the shooting to call her office at 877-370-PCPO or Paterson police at 973-321-1120.