Arrests Made in Newark Shooting Deaths

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Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the execution-style slaying of three college-bound teenagers in Newark, N.J.

CHERYL CORLEY, host:

This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Cheryl Corley. Farai Chideya is away.

We'll get to our black literature series in just a minute. But first, we have more news about the brutal slayings that rocked Newark, New Jersey last weekend. On Saturday night, four college-bound teenagers, who had been hanging out on a school playground, were shot in the head.

Three of the victims died but one is alive, and according to Mayor Cory Booker, working with police to identify her attackers. North police say they've arrested a minor in connection with the case and 31-year-old Jose Carranza turned himself into police shortly after the press conference this morning.

We go now to NPR's Nancy Solomon who's been covering the story. Nancy, thanks for joining us.

NANCY SOLOMON: Hi. You're welcome, Cheryl.

CORLEY: Well, what can you tell us? You attended this press conference this morning. What can you tell us about those two suspects?

SOLOMON: Well, they're not saying very much at all about the 15-year-old. Matter of fact, they've said nothing about him. And the 30-year-old Jose Carranza, apparently, he has a criminal history and there's a current court case pending against him, and that they had started a huge manhunt this morning. But apparently, he's turned himself in.

CORLEY: Do police believe this was gang related at all?

SOLOMON: They keep saying it's not. I think the execution style of the killings perfected it seems unlikely that these four young people had much value with them that night in the park. It has a lot of people shaking their heads about how this could be a robbery. But the police and the mayor have been very clear that they do not think this is gang related. They do not think it was a gang initiation and they're, so far, sticking with that.

CORLEY: Do they have any motive at all?

SOLOMON: No, they would not. If they do, they would not talk about it.

CORLEY: Mm-hmm. At this point, are they - as we're speaking now, are they looking for anyone else?

SOLOMON: Yes. They say they believe there are more people involved. They didn't specify how many, but they say they're looking for more people.

CORLEY: And all of the victims were African-American. Do police think race played any kind of role in this event at all?

SOLOMON: Well, Mayor Cory Booker was very clear about this during the press conference and he was asked directly about it. And, you know, it's believed that, you know, certainly one but probably several of the men who were the perpetrators are Latino. And he was very clear that they do not believe there was a hate crime. They do not believe there was a racial motive.

They are working very hard to try to diffuse any kind of tension that may come up around this. I thought it was really interesting that Mayor Booker addressed the Hispanic press corps at the press conference. He was very careful to make sure they were able to ask questions. He answered them in what he called his less than perfect Spanish. And I think that's significant. I think he is working overtime to try to diffuse any possible tensions that could arise out of this.

CORLEY: Because Newark has had a history of tension, this kind of tension.

SOLOMON: Yes, and the city is becoming a more Latino city as most American cities are. It's a majority black city. And if - and so those tensions do arise.

CORLEY: All right. Well, thank you so much, Nancy.

SOLOMON: Okay. You're welcome.

CORLEY: NPR's Nancy Solomon, who's been covering the schoolyard killings of three college students and the wounding of another in Newark, New Jersey.

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