UPDATE: A college-bound Paterson teen was carrying in his grandmother's groceries when he was struck and killed by a stray bullet outside the family's home, loved ones said.
Robert Cuadra, 18, was hit when someone fired no fewer than 16 rounds on Godwin Avenue between Carroll Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
Responding officers found the mortally wounded teen on the sidewalk in front of his house, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora said in a joint announcement.
An ambulance took Cuadra to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later, they said.
Cuadra, who attended Paterson’s Harp Academy of Health Science, "was just granted a full scholarship to college and had a full-time job," his aunt, Angelica Campos, said.
"He was kind, well raised," she added. "He was a big brother/father to his siblings."
The circumstances of his death "speak to his character and add to the bitterness of his being taken away from us," Paterson Schools Supt. Eileen F. Shafer said,
"Robert Cuadra was a dedicated honors student who looked forward to starting the next chapter of his life in college this fall," Shafer said, while noting that he took classes at Rutgers University through the district’s dual enrollment program.
He was hard-working, polite, humble and intelligent, with "a cooperative and sincere spirit," Shafer said.
"Robert was always willing to help others. He truly embraced HARP Academy’s motto of 'Service Above Self,' the superintendent said.
He participated in various service projects in Paterson, including breast cancer and March of Dimes Walks, canned food and clothing drives, Habitat for Humanity home construction, leukemia/lymphoma-coin collection and The Heifer International Project, she said.
"During his freshman year of high school, Robert earned a full college scholarship, which included room and board through the Give Back Scholarship Program," Shafer noted. "He was accepted to Montclair State University. Robert was an Upward Board student at MSU and looked forward to attending the school in the fall."
Cuadra enjoyed boxing and recently was teaching himself to play the guitar, she added.
"The hearts of everyone in (the district) are broken by the violent loss of this promising young man," Shafer said. "We pray that Robert’s aunt, his grandmother, his mother, and the rest of his family find comfort during this most difficult time. May we all resolve to end the senseless violence that has taken so many good people like Robert.”
Campos, meanwhile, launched a GoFundMe campaign to help Ivernis Santiago and Robert Cuadra get a headstone for their son's grave.
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