Po­lice ID sus­pect in dou­ble killing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Freeman staff

NEWBURGH >> A 17-year-old from Newburgh is wanted for sec­ond-de­gree murder for the shoot­ing deaths of two young women at a Hal­loween party, city po­lice said Mon­day.

Nija A. John­son is be­ing sought in the killings of Omani Free, 18, and Tabitha Cruz, 20, early Sun­day in an apart­ment build­ing at 119 Broad­way in Newburgh, po­lice said. They said there’s a $2,500 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to John­son’s ar­rest and con­vic­tion.

Ear­lier Mon­day, po­lice an­nounced the ar­rests of Rainier Hamil­ton, 21, and Tyson Oliveira, 20, both of Newburgh, for al­legedly help­ing the gun­man im­me­di­ately af­ter the dou­ble killing. Hamil­ton was charged with the felonies of crim­i­nal pos­ses­sion of a weapon (a hand­gun) and tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence; Oliveira was charged with tam­per­ing with phys­i­cal ev­i­dence.

Po­lice said nei­ther man is “ac­cused of com­mit­ting the shoot­ing.”

Five other peo­ple, who were not iden­ti­fied, were struck by gun­fire in the shoot­ings that killed Free and Cruz, po­lice said. They said all were ex­pected to re­cover.

Po­lice said the shoot­ings took place just be­fore 1 a.m. Sun­day.

Free’s mother, Rhonda Valen­tine-Free, said her daugh­ter de­cided to go to the party, about five blocks from home, when a friend be­came avail­able Satur­day night and oth­er­wise would have been due home around the time the gun­fire broke out.

The Newburgh school dis­trict, mean­while, made coun­selors avail­able Mon­day to stu­dents, staff and fam­i­lies.

In a pre­pared state­ment, the dis­trict said it “joins with the Newburgh com­mu­nity as we mourn the loss of two young lives lost in a tragic shoot­ing early Sun­day morn­ing. In ad­di­tion, count­less other lives were for­ever al­tered in this sense­less act of vi­o­lence.”

Mid-Hud­son News Net­work and The As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this re­port.


Tabitha Cruz, left, and Omani Free


Rainier Hamil­ton, left, and Tyson Oliv­e­ria


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