Innocent New Jersey teen killed by stray bullet mourned by loved ones

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Family and friends gathered Friday at a funeral for a teenager who was killed when he was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle in New Jersey.

Robert Cuadra's funeral was held at Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Cathedral in Paterson.

Cuadra, 18, was helping his grandmother bring groceries inside her home when the shots rang out.

Two of the suspected shooters, Jaquin Williams and Jahed Jones, both 19, were in court Wednesday, with the judge ruling they would remain in custody pending trial.

A third suspect, 18-year-old Kahaz Heron, is expected in court next week.

His mother showed great composure as she said goodbye to her firstborn child.

"He was the love of my life, he's my everything, he's my strength, he's my weakness, he's everything," Ivernis Santiago said. "He was a brother, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin, a best friend -- he was just an amazing kid."

Friends were also touched remembering his sensitive and sometimes funny ways.

"He didn't deserve this, he deserved to be with us," Marisol Sanchez said.

His smile was like a dazzling beam of light and mourners said his senseless murder claimed the life of a young man who had a bright future which is now gone for good.

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Cuadra's family says he was excited for college and had been awarded a full four-year scholarship to Montclair State University.

"He didn't deserve a bullet to the head," Santiago said. "He didn't deserve that at all. He was a good kid."



Cuadra was remembered as a dedicated student at HARP Academy who cared for his family and friends, a hard-working, polite, humble and intelligent young man.

"We all mourn the loss of this incredible young man with a tremendously bright future," principal Kelli White said. "Everyone loved Robert. There are no words. He will be missed."

During his three and half years at HARP Academy, Cuardra was an active member of the Interact Club, he participated in numerous service projects 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.

He enjoyed boxing and he recently was teaching himself to play the guitar.

Cuadra worked at a well-known catering hall in Paterson, and his mother wants the world to know he was a good kid who deserved so much better.

"He was born and raised here," she said. "He was born at St. Joe's Hospital. He died at St. Joe's Hospital."

The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office asks anyone with additional information about the incident to call the tips line at 1-877-370-PCPO or tips@passaiccountynj.org or contact the Paterson Police Detective Bureau at 973-321-1120.

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