LONG BRANCH, N.J. — Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil at Franklin Park to honor four members of the same family killed, allegedly at the hands of a teenage relative.
Steven and Linda Kologi, their 18-year-old daughter Brittany and close family friend 70-year-old Mary Schultz were shot inside their home on New Year’s Eve. The suspect is the Kologis’ teenage son. His name is being withheld because he is a juvenile.
Shannon Nutley, friend and former classmate of Brittany, organized the vigil.
“Each one of them came out in the freezing cold to come out here to speak about Brittany’s family and Mary and this is so important because we just need to be together,” Nutley said.
The tragedy has shocked the tight-knit community. The mayor of Long Branch also attended the vigil.
“You can’t make sense of this tragedy you just feel awful, a dead inside feeling,” Mayor Adam Schneider said.
Neighbors told PIX11 the teenage suspect is mentally disabled. His first court appearance was delayed Tuesday while a New Jersey media outlet petitions the court to make his name public. The prosecutor in the case reportedly is looking to try him as an adult.
The victims were shot at close range with a semi-automatic rifle. Some are now questioning why a gun – although legally owned by a family member – was kept in the home of a teen with challenges. But tonight, it was about honoring the lives lost.
“Everyone was invited to their house anytime,” Nutley said. “They’re the nicest people, every synonym for great wouldn’t even describe this family.”
The teen;s hearing is now scheduled for 11 a.m. on Wednesday. A judge may decide before the trial to make the teen’s name public.