Newark authorities say that the lone survivor of an execution-style shooting that left her brother and two friends dead has picked out a suspect. Nineteen-year-old Natasha Aerial, who is still in the hospital after being shot in the head, selected a suspect from a photo array. The Star-Ledger reports that the suspect was included in the array because his fingerprints were among those found on a beer bottle at the schoolyard where the shootings took place.
However, there is tension between the Newark police and prosecutors about how to handle the suspect. Essex County prosecutor Paula Dow's office says that there is not enough evidence to arrest the man, which has irked others in government. The NY Times reports that the Newark police and City Hall "have complained in the past about Ms. Dow’s reluctance to make arrests in murder cases that rely on a single eyewitness." Law enforcement officials are worried that the man, an Ecuadorean immigrant, may flee the country.
However, Newark Mayor Cory Booker denied that Aerial picked a suspect. He and Dow announced that the reward for information leading to an arrest was now $150,000. Additionally, over $100,000 has been raised raised for the families of the victims. Booker also promised that Aerial and her family would be protected, given the Newark's history of intimidation and violence towards witnesses, and offered to protect anyone with information about the case.
Aerial, her brother Terrance, Iofemi Hightower, and Dashon Harvey had been hanging out late Saturday night in the schoolyard of the Mount Vernon School, in Newark's middle-class Ivy Hill neighborhood, when a group of men approached the group of four. Terrance Aeriel, Hightower, and Harvey were made to kneel before being shot in the head; some reports have mentioned that Hightower had defensive knife wounds and that her ear may have been cut off. Police believe the men intended to rob the four.
Update: CNN is reporting that Newark authorities have arrested a suspect - and that he is 14-15 years old.
Photograph of Dow and Booker by Mike Derer/AP