Both suspects in the off-campus house party shooting that occurred early Saturday morning, killing sophomore Jessica Moore and injuring two other Seton Hall students, are in custody.
Nicholas Welch, 25, of East Orange, was arrested at 9:05 p.m on Sept. 27. Welch is the alleged gunman and is being charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, burglary and additional weapons offenses, according to Robert D. Laurino, acting Essex County Prosecutor.
Welch lived on 531 S. Clinton St., just houses away from the site of the shooting.
Marcus Bascus, 19, of East Orange, is the alleged accomplice. He was detained on Sept. 29 in an apartment bathroom located at 316 N. Empire Court in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. at 3:30 p.m., by East Orange police, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the United States Marshals Services.
Authorities also found “small amounts” of crack cocaine and marijuana at the apartment, as reported by The Star Ledger.
Bascus is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, four counts of attempted murder and weapons charges.
Bail is set at $2 million for both suspects.
Welch and Bascus also have previous narcotics charges, according to Laurino.
During a Sept. 27 press conference at the East Orange Police Department, Laurino stated multiples times that forensic evidence was “crucial” in the investigation, as was “good old-fashioned police work.”
Laurino also credited the task force for the arrests.
“I’d like to thank task force members,” Laurino said. “As a result of their tireless efforts, we were able to solve this crime in less than 72 hours.”
Welch was arraigned at 9 a.m. Sept. 29 at the Essex County Veteran’s Courthouse in Newark.
In a brief appearance, Welch answered Judge Peter J. Vasquez’s questions regarding the charges and his legal rights with just “yes” responses.
Gerald Saluti, Welch’s attorney stated after the hearing that Welch seemed very nervous and scared.
Saluti entered his client’s not guilty plea.
The prosecutor’s office also filed a motion to obtain Welch’s DNA through a buccal swab, which is a procedure used to obtain DNA from someone’s cheek.
They are requesting the DNA because a blood sample was found at the scene of the crime, according to Laurino.
“That profile was put into the CODA system that is used when we have unidentified offenders, most often we use it when there are cold cases,” Laurino said. “We did get a hit on Mr. Welch. Upon getting a hit he was identified as being the shooter and then the charges were then brought at that time.”
The prosecution believes that the blood came from Welch during a scuffle at the scene.
According to Saluti, he was retained on Monday night by the defendant and only spoke to him for approximately 30 minutes this morning.
Authorities believe that he never left the home following the shooting.
“Everybody was essentially checked going in and out of the neighborhood,” Laurino said. “We do not believe he left the house after he committed the murder.”
Ebonie, the mother of Welch’s baby, stated that the information about his hiding is false.
“He just picked his kids up from school,” she said. “If he was hiding out, how would he pick his kids up from school? He was not hiding in the house. He was coming in and out of the house frequently.”
When asked about his whereabouts during the party, she had “no comment.”
Moore’s family was also present in the courtroom.
Following the hearing, Moore’s aunt made a statement on behalf of the family.
“On behalf of Jessica’s family and friends, we would like take this time to express a warm and heartfelt appreciation for the outpouring of prayers and condolences expressed,” Moore’s aunt said. “That itself is a testament to the life of Jessica Ann Moore. Jessica has always been our sweet, sweet angel. God had simply given her wings, thank you Jessica for giving us your wings.”
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