PERTH AMBOY, NJ—A man attempting to cross the US-Canada border with a handgun was taken into custody by the Canadian authorities and held under suspicion that he fatally shot his sister in Perth Amboy.
According to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO), police were asked by a "family friend" to check on the well-being of 32-year-old Perth Amboy resident Urooj Aftab shortly after midnight on October 30.
"The victim was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:49 a.m," reads a press release issued by the MCPO later that day.
It's unclear whether the suspect, 34-year-old Arun Aftab, is still in Candian custody, or if he has been extradited to the United States.
Aftab was previously convicted of making false statements to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) on a form he filled out to a purchase of a 9mm handgun in Texas.
Arun Aftab was given a probationary sentence for that federal charge, but his probation was revoked in early 2016 after he was caught attempting to use his 61-year-old mother as a "straw buyer" to purchase a shotgun and a handgun in Vermont.
Straw buyers are intermediaries who fill out the paperwork to purchase weapons, then hand them over to someone who would otherwise be unable to purchase them.
During the same trip, Aftab's mother also signed a lease on an apartment in North Troy, Vermont, a town located on the US-Canada border.
When a Vermont Police Chief was alerted to Aftab's suspicious behavior, he launched an investigation that eventually led to the invovlement from the U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
On December 4, 2015, Aftab was interviewed by the JTTF along with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Woodbridge Police Department, according to a report in the Addison Independent.
Shortly thereafter, the weapons purchased by Aftab's mother were seized, along with large knives. Aftab was sent back to Texas to serve out his sentence on the original charge of false statements to the ATF.
But authorities in Middlesex County believe that Arun Aftab got his hands on another weapon and used it to murder his sister shortly before attempting to flee the country.
The MCPO, along with local police in Perth Amboy, charged Arun Aftab with murder, possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, according to their statement.
"Arun Aftab is currently being held in Canada, and is expected to be returned to the United States," reads the October 30 statement from the MCPO.
But since then, no new information has been released about the case and a request to see if the suspect has been returned to the U.S. yielded no information from the MCPO.
"Please note that there is no further information at this time," the MCPO's spokesperson told New Brunswick Today on January 3.
Canadian authorities are also declining to give an update on the potential extradition of Arun Aftab.
"Extradition requests are confidential state-to-state communications. Therefore, we cannot confirm or deny the existence or status of a specific request," said Ian McLeod, a spokesperson for the Canadian Department of Justice.
The United States' neighbor to the north would not even confirm if Aftab is still in custody, citing the Canadian "Privacy Act."
"The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) cannot confirm or deny personal information on any one person, file or entity as the Privacy Act provides strict parameters pertaining to what the Agency may or may not say on any one specific file, person or entity," reads a statement from the CBSA.
The investigation is active and continuing, according to the MCPO. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Frank Cristiano of the Perth Amboy Police Department at (732) 324-3837, or MCPO Detective David Abromaitis at (732) 745-4436.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.