NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A 19-year-old man already facing charges of theft and disorderly conduct has been arrested and charged in the September 13 mass shooting that killed Anthony Robinson and Lionel Macauley.
Seven others, who authorities have not identified, were shot on Delafield Street in the brutal incident, possibly the worst shooting in the city’s history.
At least three other culprits are still on the loose after the accused, Somerset resident Jeron Pitt, was arrested on February 5.
The ongoing investigation into the matter “revealed Pitt and other individuals drove to a party on Delafield Street where they shot into a crowd of people, killing Macauley and Robinson” according to the brief statement from police and prosecutors.
“At present, the shooting does not appear to be a random act,” read one sentence of the short announcement, the first released by authorities on this matter in more than four months.
The next sentence distanced Rutgers University from the matter: “The investigation has determined there is no affiliation with Rutgers University or its students.”
Pitt has been charged with a slew of first-degree criminal offenses, including two counts of murder, a count of conspiracy to commit murder, and seven counts of attempted murder, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) and New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD).
The additional charges include second-degree conspiracy to possess a firearm for an unlawful purpose, second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, and fourth-degree tampering with evidence.
Pitt is at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick, where he is being held pending a “detention hearing in Superior Court.
Those hearings are typically held on Tuesday and Friday and broadcast on the NJCourts.gov website.
Pitt was charged with disorderly conduct by Bridgewater Police over a March 3, 2020 incident “after yelling at an officer in the presence of minors” at Somerset Academy, according to a report citing a weekly police blotter.
Then, in November 2020, police in Deal and Brielle investigated Pitt and he was charged with theft and burglary, according to Patch.com.
Video from the New Brunswick shooting showed four armed men hopping out of a vehicle and shooting wildly onto a block where a party was being held.
The joint statement of MCPO and NBPD also noted that: “The car used in the shooting was later recovered.”
Authorities did not name Pitt’s co-conspirators, nor did they suggest a motive for the mass shooting.
The morning after the violent attack, NBC New York reportedly spoke to the “organizer” of a party on the block that was charging $5 to enter.
“A man was asking to get in with another man. They didn’t have the $10 to get in,” said reporter Myles Miller. “[The organizer] said, about five minutes later, they came back with guns and started shooting.”
This street, usually the home to hundreds of Rutgers student renters, has seen more than its fair share of serious chaos over the past 12 years.
In 2009, just one block away from the scene of the mass shooting, police officers chased bank robbers down the dead-end street, exchanging gunfire in the afternoon.
Police shot one of the men and captured all four of them, then asked Delafield Street residents for red “solo” cups to mark the locations of shell casings from the shootout.
Several New Brunswick officers earned federal “Top Cop” awards from then-President Barack Obama for their involvement in the case.
The very same block killers shot up in 2020 was the scene of a block party that spiraled out of control seven and a half years earlier.
Known as “Delafest,” the party devolved into a riot in the middle of a Saturday afternoon in April 2013. Party-goers were packed onto porch roofs, fighting in the streets, throwing glass bottles, and eventually igniting a piece of furniture in the middle of the street.
NBPD and four other police agencies descended on the party in the late afternoon, using pepper spray and tough talk to clear the streets, later charging several Rutgers students with contributing to the chaos.
Then, in 2015, a dispute over a parking space led to several members of the Rutgers football team assaulting fellow students in a brutal streetfight.
And though far fewer Rutgers students are inhabiting the neighborhood, just a few blocks from the College Avenue campus, violence remains a serious problem.
On January 27, police alerted the community that there had been an armed home invasion on the Delafield Street.
As we reported, a 62-year-old accountant was murdered in the hallway outside of his Hamilton Street office just a few blocks away on January 17.
Two days earlier and even closer to Delafield Street, NBPD officers were captured on video busting out their long guns on a Friday afternoon.
“The incident on Central Avenue was a reported terroristic threat made by a juvenile,” said NBPD Deputy Director JT Miller.
Miller told the City Council he would respond to New Brunswick Today’s question related to this incident at the February 3 Council meeting.
“Several officers are trained in long guns… there’s also shotguns,” said the newly-minted Deputy Director, promising to send this reporter an email the following day with the types of guns the department has in its possession.
But as of February 5, Miller had not sent the promised list and also had not responded to our questions about whether any charges were filed in the incident, why officers were using the long guns, and who they were pointing them at.
As we reported, NBPD has refused to provide statistics on the number of shootings for the past six years, and the city’s eight-term Mayor Jim Cahill has not acknowledged the mass shooting incident publicly.
It is now an open question whether the September 13 shooting was the worst mass shooting in the history of Middlesex County. City officials, including Miller, could not recall one with as many victims.
The MCPO responded to our questions if there was ever a worse incident in their history, stating “The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office does not have a definition of mass shootings and the statistical information your are asking for is not readily available.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a mass shooting is a shooting incident where four or more people injured or killed. The site lists 611 mass shootings in the United States during 2020 alone, including twelve in New Jersey. Combined, those shootings claimed ten lives and injured 51 other people.
Paterson was the hardest hit, where four mass shootings killed five people and injured sixteen. Newark had three mass shootings, and five cities had one each: Jersey City, Trenton, Atlantic City, Plainfield, and New Brunswick.
While New Jersey has not had a mass shooting in 2021, a total of 41 have taken place across the US.
Police are asking anyone with information about the September 13 double homicide to call NBPD Detective Erika DiMarcello at (732) 745-5200 or MCPO Sergeant 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, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.