UPDATE: Three teens have been arrested in charged in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Robert Cuadra, local authorities say.
PATERSON, N.J. — A mother is speaking out after her college-bound son — an honors student — was hit by a stray bullet while helping his grandmother with groceries.
The teen, 18-year-old Robert Cuadra, attended Harp Academy in Paterson. And now, instead of preparing to send him off to college in the fall, his mother is planning his funeral.
“He’s an excellent kid,” Ivernis Santiago said. “He came out great.”
She said her son, a straight-A student at Harp Academy, didn’t misbehave or do drugs. He received a full scholarship to Montclair State University while just a freshman in high school. Cuadra’s official acceptance letter to Montclair arrived Friday — two days after the teen lost his life.
Santiago said her son didn’t even hear the bullets coming — he was wearing soundproof headphones outside, and didn’t register any of the 16 shots that were fired.
During his time in high school, Cuadra was active in participating in charitable efforts like canned food drives and breast cancer walks. The superintendent of Harp Academy issued a statement, calling Cuadra a “hard-working, polite, humble and intelligent young man.”
“He had a cooperative and sincere spirit,” the statement said. “Robert was always willing to help others. He truly embraced HARP Academy’s motto of ‘Service Above Self.””
As Cuadra’s family deals with the loss and honors his memory, investigations are ongoing in the city. The mayor of Paterson said people are cooperating with police.