Funeral held for Long Branch family killed in New Year’s Eve shooting

LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Mourners gathered Monday morning to remember the parents and their teenage daughter who were fatally shot on New Year's Eve along with a family friend.

Steven and Linda Kologi, along with 18-year-old Brittany Kologi and family friend Mary Ann Schulz, were allegedly killed minutes before midnight by the Kologis' 16-year-old son. His court hearings and the case is being kept confidential and he remains in jail.

Surviving family members, including the couple’s sons Steve Jr. and Scott, as well as Linda’s son from a previous relationship., Jonathan Ruiz, attended the funeral. Friends and family members hugged and cried outside the church as the three caskets were loaded into separate hearses and transported for a private burial.

“No words for what happened,” Derek Warren, a friend who attended the funeral, said "It’s just a tragic situation that no family or friend should ever have to go through.”

A few men who showed up to the funeral said they played on a recreational softball team with Mr. Kologi for over 20 years. According to his obituary, Mr. Kologi, 42, was a life-long Long Branch resident and he played in several softball leagues. He was a truck driver for Clayton Concrete in Lakewood. He enjoyed skiing, body building and pool. But most of all, he is remembered as a devoted father.

“I couldn’t ask for a better teammate or friend,” another man who came to pay his respects said.

There is still no clear motive for why the Kologi’s son would murder his family. Many of those who attended the funeral were young people, presumably Brittany’s friends. The teen had just graduated from Long Branch High School in 2017 and she was halfway through her first year at Stockton University. Friends say she worked part-time in a local ice cream shop. According to her obituary, she was artistic and very close to her grandfather, Adrian Kologi, who survived the shooting.

The obituary of Linda Kologi, 42, says she was originally from Jersey City and North Bergen, but moved to Long Branch 25 years ago. She too, was described as a devoted parent whose life revolved around her family.