A 22-year-old man suspected of shooting a 9-year-old girl in Newark this week was picked up and arrested by police Saturday morning.
The shooting was the result of a dispute between two teens and the young victim wasn't the intended target, police have said. The 9-year-old girl was shot twice, but her 16-year-old sister was the apparent target.
The sisters were both at home on Holiday Court and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Wednesday when the teen girl opened her front door and was met with the 15-year-old girl whom she has been squabbling with, according to Newark police spokesperson Brian O'Hara.
"Apparently there had been something ongoing between them and they had some sort of physical altercation early this afternoon," O'Hara said.
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The 15-year-old girl was with Cruz when the pair entered the Holiday Court residence around 5:30 p.m., forcing their way into the apartment and allegedly firing shots in the direction of the sisters, O'Hara said. The 16-year-old's little sister was hit in her foot and leg.
Investigators had taken the 15-year-old into police custody while looking into who had the gun and fired the shot. The 9-year-old girl was still hospitalized on Saturday but was expected to make a full recovery.
Surveillance cameras caught the 22-year-old and helped detectives track him to apartments on Broadway, police say. He was arrested Saturday morning.
Cruz faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful possession of a weapon, conspiracy and burglary. Information for his attorney was not immediately available.
"Nine-year-old children in the summer are not supposed to be in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds," O'Hara said. He said the weekend arrest is a good example of community assistance channeled through Newark's relatively new office of violence prevention.
O'Hara says the problem of gun violence is getting worse. So far this year, Newark police have recovered 58% more guns than they did last year --- especially from teenagers who have suffered during the pandemic.
"We're talking about young people. They have not had structure in their lives over the last year and a half. They have not been in school and just in general, the community is facing a whole lot of stress," O'Hara said.