NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Authorities charged two men Friday in the fatal shooting of a college junior during a burglary attempt at his fraternity house as officials insisted students are safe in the state's largest city despite the slayings of two college students in the last month.
New Jersey Institute of Technology student Joseph Micalizzi was killed early Monday at the Tau Kappa Epsilon house in Newark during a burglary attempt that turned violent, Essex County acting prosecutor Carolyn Murray said. The 23-year-old Freehold resident was a mechanical engineering major.
Murray on Friday announced murder, burglary and weapons charges against 18-year-old Nafee Cotman and 22-year-old Taquan Harris.
Cotman was arrested in Irvington on Thursday, and Harris was arrested there on Friday. They were jailed on $1 million bail each. They couldn't be reached for comment by telephone while jailed, and it was unclear if they had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
The prosecutor's office also announced charges against suspects in two other slayings that occurred in Newark last week. Newark, a city of 280,000 people, has seen its murder rate rise steadily since it hit a decade low of 67 in 2008. More than 90 people have been killed in the city in each of the last three years, including 111 in 2013.
NJIT President Joel Bloom insisted that the campus is safe and that about half the school's 60-person public safety squad is academy-trained and carries firearms.
"I've been here 25 years, and this is the first time I've had to deal with a murder on our campus," he said.
Murray said Micalizzi was in his bedroom when he was shot. She said Cotman and Harris didn't know him and targeted the fraternity at random because they were seeking cash.
Micalizzi's fraternity is across the street from the Rutgers-Newark campus, near where a Rutgers student was killed in a double shooting last month that left his friend injured. Authorities have charged a Newark man in the April 10 attack.
Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said Friday that the city enhanced its presence on the NJIT campus this week.
NJIT is located in downtown Newark and has about 11,000 students who mainly pursue degrees in science and technology.
Democratic Mayor Ras Baraka said the NJIT campus is safe.
"It is always bustling with people and activity, and it's one of the best institutions we have in the state of New Jersey and we're proud of it," Baraka said. "We're going to do what we can in combination with the NJIT police department and all the other forces to make sure young people are safe."