On Friday a Union County Grand Jury returned an indictment against an 18-year-old Plainfield, N.J. man on five counts of attempted murder, including the shooting of a young child, announced Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park.
According to the investigation, on January 10, 2013, Jose Rodriguez, a member of the 18th Street Gang, encountered members of the rival MS 13 gang while on the 300 block of Plainfield Avenue. The members of MS 13 allegedly flashed signs at Rodriguez, who followed them down the street and then opened fire with a Browning .22 Challenger handgun, said Park.
A five-year-old boy, walking home from school with his mother, was shot and seriously wounded by Rodriguez, said Park. The child spent several weeks in serious condition at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center. Because of his injuries, the Union County Homicide Task Force was asked to assist the Plainfield Police Division with the investigation.
Shootings like this have become an all too familiar part of life for some people in the county and around the state,” said Park. “Innocent bystanders, like this child, are becoming tragic victims to this type of gun violence.”
Rodriguez was arrested on January 12, 2013 after he was positively identified by the intended victims and by his friends who were with him at the time of the shooting, said Park
The Grand Jury returned five counts on the indictment for Attempted Murder, Weapons Possession and a drug charge. Rodriguez is being held at the Union County Jail on $1 million bail.
The indictments were handed up on the same that that the New Jersey State Attorney General’s Office announced a joint Gun Buy Back program in Union County and Hudson County, scheduled for July 12-13, 2013.
The Hudson-Union gun buyback event is a cooperative effort involving the Hudson and Union County Prosecutor’s Offices, the Union County Department of Public Safety, the Union County Police Department, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the Hudson and Union County Sheriff’s Offices, the New Jersey State Police, the Bayonne, Jersey City, Union City, Elizabeth, Linden and Plainfield police departments, and the faith-based community in Hudson and Union Counties.
Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on July 12 and 13, Hudson and Union County residents can turn in up to three firearms “no questions asked” at any of the six church locations and receive cash payment of up to $250 per weapon, depending on the type of gun and its condition. Police officers will be stationed at the churches to collect and secure the guns.
The Attorney General’s Office is paying for the buyback with forfeiture funds obtained by its Division of Criminal Justice. The Union and Hudson County Prosecutor’s Offices are also contributing forefeiture monies, as are the Union County Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The Union County Churches participating in the buyback program are: The New Zion Baptist Church is located at 800 Flora Street in Elizabeth. The Morning Star Community Christian Center is located at 1009 Chandler Avenue in Linden, and Shiloh Baptist Church is at 525 West Fourth Street in Plainfield.