Highly regarded teacher fatally shot, 1 other injured in East Orange

EAST ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A well-liked and highly regarded teacher at East Orange STEM Academy was shot and killed early Friday morning.

The teacher was the innocent victim of gunfire around 1:18 a.m. on South 16th Street and Central Avenue.

Police said 45-year-old Kofi Owens, of Newark, was pronounced dead in his car. One other man was rushed to University Hospital in stable condition.

Owens was a technology teacher who taught middle schoolers how to code. Neighbors said he was a good dad and was known in the community as a mentor to young black men.

So far police have not indicated they have any idea what prompted the shooting or who was behind it.

Owens mentored a kid next door to the site of the shooting. People who know him believe that is what brought him to the area early in the morning.

"I am extremely saddened to learn of the tragic death of Kofi Owens, a beloved and well-respected teacher and mentor in our East Orange School District. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and all of those who will feel the loss throughout our community," said Mayor Ted R. Green. "This type of violence will not be tolerated in our city, and we are working aggressively with all law enforcement agencies to ensure that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice using every means necessary."

East Orange school district Superintendent Dr. Kevin West released the following statement:

"Kofi Owens was a dedicated employee working within the East Orange School District for over 10 years. He was well respected by his colleagues and students. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4 EC or 1-877-847-7432.

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