Authorities said police officers were called to Godwin Avenue in Paterson around 6:30 p.m. for a report of a shooting.
Responding officers found 18-year-old Robert Cuadra lying on the sidewalk in front of that address with a gunshot wound to the head.
At least 16 shots were fired between the two men involved in the gun battle.
Cuadra was taken to Saint Joseph's University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Cuadra was bringing groceries to his grandmother's home when he was struck.
Despite a difficult upbringing, Cuadra worked so hard at school that he earned a scholarship to Montclair State University in the fall.
"He just turned 18, all he wanted was to go to Montclair University," his aunt Kiera Jimenez said.
He was just seven months away from escaping the poverty and violence he was surrounded by as he grew up.
Mayor Andre Sayegh said he spoke with the teen's mother and offered his office's support.
On Thursday night, friends returned to the scene of the crime to write condolences for Cuadra's family.
"He wasn't a street kid, he wasn't a violent kid, he was a natural, good, innocent kid," his cousin Carlos Traverso, Jr. said.
His mother is mourning the senseless murder and the wrenching loss of all he was bound to be.
"He was a good kid, he was humble, he didn't bother anyone, he didn't go outside," his mother Ivernis Santiago said. "No matter what he went through he was always laughing, playing around, goofing around, he could go through something right now and then be playing around like nothing happened, he was just such a good spirit."
Cuadra has not yet decided what he would study at Montclair University, but his family said he was smart and he would have been good at anything.
No arrests have been made, but Cuadra's family says the gunmen should turn themselves in.
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