Landlord, 83, charged in fatal shooting of tenant in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

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HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J.  — An 83-year-old landlord in New Jersey has been charged in the fatal shooting of his tenant during an alleged argument in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. on Saturday.

John C. Wisse, allegedly shot 58-year-old Gerard Velardi once in the chest, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.

Velardi rented the downstairs of Wisse's home on Passaic Street in Hasbrouck Heights.

Wisse then allegedly called 911 at 4:58 p.m. to report the shooting.

Velardi's body was found in his downstairs apartment and Wisse was found upstairs with a .38-caliber handgun, Molinelli said.

A neighbor who knew the alleged shooter for five years said he had been sick lately.

“The last two months, I think he had surgery. He was a very weak man. He needed a lot of help. When I heard that he shot somebody, I couldn’t even believe because he was so weak, I can’t figure him, you know, being able to shoot a gun,” he said. This neighbor did not wish to give his name.

Authorities say the shooting was prompted by an argument between the two men. It was Wisse who called police after the shooting. Investigators say they found him upstairs, in his own apartment with a 38 caliber handgun.

“Two weeks ago they were both sitting in the back talking. I didn’t see they were having any issues,” said the unnamed neighbor.

Another man said otherwise. Jason Eriksson lives one door down and said he saw police activity in the area just a couple days ago.

"From what I hear, there was a problem with the tenant because the tenant was lost of what he was going to do after the sale of the house,” said Eriksson, “I guess the big focus right now is sort of like gun control. Because the situation should have never escalated into someone losing their lives. Now one man is dead an the other man’s life is gone.”

Wisse was charged with aggravated manslaughter. He's at Bergen County Jail on $750,000 bail.

The investigation is ongoing.