Multiple Shootings Jolt City

Investigators standing outside 119 Broadway, the site of an Oct. 30 Halloween party shooting that took the lives of two young Newburgh women, 20-year-old Tabitha Cruz and 18-year-old Omani Free. (photo by Bob Root)

Two young women killed in deadly Halloween party shooting

By Mark Gerlach

The City of Newburgh was plagued by a number of shootings this week.

Two young City of Newburgh women, 20-year-old Tabitha Cruz and 18-year-old Omani Free, died in a shooting that took place at a Halloween party inside 119 Broadway. The incident occurred at about 12:43 a.m. on Oct. 30. Five others were struck by gunfire, but are expected to recover from their injuries, police said.

A suspect, 17-year-old Nija Johnson of Newburgh, has been identified by police and is wanted for murder in the second degree. A $2,500 reward is being offered “for information that leads to the location, arrest and conviction of Johnson,” Johnson’s “wanted” poster says. Johnson had not been apprehended as of press time Thursday.

Cruz graduated Newburgh Free Academy in 2014. She loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian, her obituary said. Free was reportedly a senior at the high school.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the City of Newburgh Police Department at 845-561-3131. 

Two other City of Newburgh men were arrested in connection with the incident. Rainer Hamilton, 21, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, a handgun, in the second degree and tampering with physical evidence, both felonies. Tyson Oliveira, 20, was charged with felony tampering with physical evidence. The suspects are believed to have assisted the shooter immediately after the incident, but are not accused of committing the shooting, police said.

The investigation is being conducted by city and state police, as well as the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Other gun-related incidents were reported in the city this week.

To read the full article see the Friday, Oct. 28 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

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