A 23-year-old mechanical engineering student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark was fatally shot inside of his fraternity house early Monday morning, in the midst of what police believe to have been a robbery attempt. Joe Micalizzi, a transfer student who had recently made the Dean's List, was reportedly returning from a nearby deli with a late night snack when he was shot. No arrests have been made as of Tuesday.
"There isn't one bad thing to say about my son; everyone loved him," Micalizzi's father, John Micalizzi, told reporters on Monday. "He worked hard, studying day and night for his engineering degree."
Micalizzi, a Junior, was shot around 3:20 a.m. on Monday, inside the Tau Kappa Epsilon house at 271 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Newark, about a two minute walk from campus. Police sources told the New Jersey Advance that two suspects entered through the building's back door shortly before the shooting. Investigators believe Micalizzi attempted to fight them off before he was shot, twice, in the hand and head. He was pronounced dead at University Hospital shortly after 5:00 a.m.
The Tau Kappa Epsilon house had been robbed recently, in April, but police have not confirmed any connection between the two incidents.
Newark has seen an uptick in violent crime in recent years—there were 104 homicides in the city in 2015, up 8% from the year previous. A childhood friend told the NY Times that Micalizzi, who was trained in wrestling and taught self-defense to fellow classmates, was known to sleep with a baseball bat underneath his bed.
NJIT updated its Facebook page to feature a single candle in mourning this week, and posted a notice about extended hours for psychological services. "This is a tragic time for Joe's family, friends and the entire NJIT campus and we extend our thoughts and prayers to all affected," said the school in a statement.
Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said in a statement this week that the incidents appeared to be isolated, and that additional officers will be deployed to areas where there appears to be an uptick in violence.