New Jersey teen helping grandmother with groceries fatally shot in crossfire

PATERSON, N.J. — A New Jersey teenager was fatally shot Wednesday after being struck by a stray bullet as he helped his grandmother carry groceries into her home, authorities said.

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Robert Cuadra, 18, of Paterson, was killed at approximately 6:30 p.m. EST, according to a news release from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.

The teen was taken to an area hospital, where he died from his wounds, the release stated.

Cuadra and his grandmother were outside her home in Paterson with her groceries when gunfire erupted, the Paterson Press reported. The teen saw his grandmother fall to the ground and he was struck by a bullet when he rushed to her side, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, who spoke with the teen’s mother, told the newspaper.

Authorities said the grandmother was not hit by any of the bullets.

A sign memorializing Cuadra with messages and prayers has been placed on Cuadra’s street, WCBS-TV reported.

Cuadra had helped build homes in Paterson for low-income families, officials told the Press. He also participated in charity fundraising walks, for the March of Dimes, collected food and clothes for needy families and fed homeless people during the holidays.

“That boy, he had a heart of pure gold,” Cuadra’s cousin, Carlos Traverso Jr., told the newspaper. “He did not have a malicious bone in his body. He was smiling all the time. He was the true definition of an innocent, good-hearted boy.”

Cuadra was an honors student at HARP Academy and took classes at Rutgers University through the school district’s dual enrollment program, according to a statement released Friday by Paterson Public Schools. He had been accepted to attend Montclair State University, his aunt, Angelica Campos, told the Daily Voice of South Passaic.

“He was kind, well raised,” Campos told the newspaper. “He was a big brother/father to his siblings.”

“He had such a promising future,” Sayegh told the Press. “This was a tragedy, truly a tragedy. We’re determined to bring the murderer or murderers to justice.”

“The hearts of everyone in the Paterson Public Schools community are broken by the violent loss of this promising young man,” Superintendent Eileen Shafer said in a statement. “Robert Cuadra was a dedicated honors student who looked forward to starting the next chapter of his life in college this fall. Robert cared for his family, and the reports that he was fatally shot while delivering groceries to his grandmother’s home speak to his character and add to the bitterness of his being taken away from us.”

“We all mourn the loss of this incredible young man with a tremendously bright future. Everyone loved Robert. There are no words,” HARP Academy Principal Kelli A. White said in a statement. “He will be missed.”