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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Authorities confirmed that they have arrested a North Brunswick man they believe is responsible for the city’s second homicide of 2017.
The fatal shooting occurred on Seventh Street, two blocks north of the New Brunswick Middle School, at around 10:30 am on July 14.
In a press statement three days later, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) identified 25-year-old Christian Cortes as the shooter who took the life of Desiree Alvarado, a 38-year-old mother of four.
Cortes was arrested at his home on Birchwood Court about 24 hours after the murder took place.
In addition to first-degree murder, Cortes is also facing second-degree charges of unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.
According to neighbors, gunshots were heard but they assumed were fireworks initially.
One of the neighbors called 911 after they say saw a Hispanic male fleeing from the scene, followed by the screams of a female pleading for help.
According to the criminal complaint obtained by New Brunswick Today, Cortes is accused of “shooting [a handgun] at a motor vehicle striking the victim in the throat.”
That motor vehicle was on Seventh Street, which runs in between Livingston and Joyce Kilmer Avenues in the city’s Fourth Ward.
“The shooting happened inside the car, ” said one of the residents at the victim’s home, adding that they don’t know if the shooter was related to the victim.
The victim was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) where she passed away from her injuries.
According to her obituary published in the Home News Tribune, Alvarado was a lifelong city resident who “had been employed as a medical receptionist for many years at both The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.”
She enjoyed “cooking and spending time with her family,” according to the obituary and was a “longtime communicant” of St. John the Baptist RC Church in New Brunswick.
Police did not share with the public what the connection was between the defendant and the victim, but they did say that the shooting was not random.
The victim’s family and friends shared their condolences on Alvarado’s Facebook page and, on July 18, a vigil was held outside the family’s home, where friends mourned the loss of her life.
A GoFundMe page was created by the son of the victim to help cover funeral costs, and it has so far raised over $10,000 from more than 150 donors.
Cortes has been held at the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center in North Brunswick since July 15, where he will await his trial, thanks to the state’s new “bail reform” laws.
Officials ask anyone with information regarding the shooting to call Detective Erika DiMarcello at 732-745-5217, or Detective Craig Marchak of the MCPO at (732) 745-3254.