Friday, February 17, 2017




Teen who killed two, wounded five at Halloween party pleads guilty


GOSHEN – The 17-year-old who shot seven people at a Halloween party in the City of Newburgh, killing two of them, pled guilty in Orange County Court on Thursday to two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

When sentenced in April, Nija Johnson of Newburgh faces 40 years to life in connection with the shootings at 119 Broadway in the early morning hours of October 30, 2016.

Johnson admitted he intended to kill someone with whom he had been in a fight when he fired at least 10 times, striking seven party-goers.

Killed in the gunfire were Tabitha Cruz, 20, and Omani Free, 18, both of Newburgh.



District Attorney David Hoovler said there was only one reason why Johnson was identified as the killer.

“I really commend the City of Newburgh Police Department. If it were not for a video camera inside the location, the crime would not have been solved,” the DA said. Hoovler said there were between 50 and 100 people in the rented out space and no one would cooperate with investigators. “That camera solved the case,” Hoovler said.

Johnson admitted that the only reason he stopped firing the gun, which was loaded, was because he had been forcibly disarmed by another person at the party.

The gun he used, a .40 caliber pistol with an extended magazine designed to hold 20 rounds, was recovered behind 119 Broadway.

“The loss of two innocent young women’s lives, and the serious injuries suffered by five other young people caused by this defendant’s senseless shooting is almost incomprehensible,” said Hoovler. “The climate which gives rise to some tolerating, or even encouraging, this type of senseless violence must stop.”


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