Two arrested in connection with 2020 Elizabeth homicide

Two men were arrested yesterday and are now criminally charged in connection with a fatal shooting that took place in Elizabeth last spring, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo and Elizabeth Police Department Chief Giacomo Sacca and Director Earl Graves jointly announced Friday.

Leonard Ellison, 36, and Shawn Gilford, 41, are both charged with first-degree murder and three related weapons offenses in connection with the homicide of 42-year-old Robert Owens.

During the early afternoon of Monday, March 30, 2020, Elizabeth Police Department officers responded to the area of 3rd and Livingston streets in the Elizabethport neighborhood, where they found Owens, who had sustained a gunshot wound, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Julie Peterman, who is prosecuting the case. Owens was subsequently pronounced dead.

An investigation led by the Union County Homicide Task Force and assisted by the Elizabeth Police Department, Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit, and Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit resulted in Ellison and Gilford being identified as suspects in the case. Ellison was arrested in Elizabeth by members of the Prosecutor’s Office and Sheriff’s Office, while Gilford was apprehended at his home in Monroe Township with the assistance of the Middlesex County Special Operations Response Team and the Monroe Township Police Department, after which both were lodged in the Union County Jail pending first appearances and detention hearings to take place in Union County Superior Court.

“I commend the fortitude and dedication exhibited by the investigators who have worked tirelessly on this case these past several months during a time that presented so many other unique challenges,” acting Prosecutor Ruotolo said. “Thanks to their efforts we have moved closer to bringing two people to justice for their roles in the murder of Mr. Owens.”

Anyone with information about this matter is still being urged to contact Homicide Task Force Sgt. Christopher Scuorzo at 908-472-0492 or Detective Ryan Kirsh at 908-347-1420.

Convictions on charges of this nature are commonly punishable by terms of up to life in state prison.

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