Two arrested in connection with Elizabeth homicide

Two people, including a juvenile, have been arrested and charged with being responsible for the gang-related fatal shooting of an Elizabeth teenager earlier this year, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Wednesday.

Juan Barraza, 19, of Elizabeth and a 16-year-old whose identity is not being disclosed due to his age are charged with first-degree murder and related weapons offenses in connection with the death of 18-year-old Oscar Antonio Martinez Alvarez.

Alvarez’s body was found near a stretch of railroad tracks close to the 300 block of Court Street in Elizabeth on April 22. A subsequent investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force, the Elizabeth Police Department, and the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit resulted in the development of Barraza and the 16-year-old as suspects in the case.

The investigation revealed that the defendants, both confirmed members of Elizabeth’s MS-13 street gang, allegedly engaged in a dispute with the victim before shooting him multiple times, killing him.

Barraza and the juvenile defendant were arrested at their homes in Elizabeth during the predawn hours of Monday morning by members of the Homicide Task Force, Elizabeth Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Two handguns were recovered as a result of a search of Barraza’s home on Marshall Street in Elizabeth.

Barraza was lodged in Union County Jail on $1 million bail while the juvenile defendant was placed in juvenile detention.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.