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Hudson Valley Teen Pleads Guilty To Killing 2 Young Women

Orange County District Attorney's Office
Orange County District Attorney’s Office

A local teenager admitted he fatally shot two Hudson Valley women and wounded five others during a Halloween shooting.

On Thursday in Orange County Court, 17-year-old Nija A. Johnson of Newburgh, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder in connection with a shooting at a Halloween party at 119 Broadway, in the City of Newburgh.

 

In court, Johnson admitted he intended to kill someone he was in a fight with when he fired a pistol at least ten times, striking seven party-goers during the early hours of October 30.

Johnson confessed he only stopped shooting his still loaded gun, because he was forcibly disarmed by another person attending the party.

The weapon Johnson used, a 40 caliber pistol with an extended magazine designed to hold 20 rounds, was recovered behind 119 Broadway, officials say.

Omani Free, 18, and 20-year-old Tabitha Cruz, both from Newburgh were killed in the shooting. Five other party-goers suffered serious physical injury.

“The loss of two innocent young women’s lives, and the serious injuries suffered by five other young people caused by this defendant’s senseless shooting is almost incomprehensible,” Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler stated. “The climate which gives rise to some tolerating, or even encouraging, this type of senseless violence must stop.

About a week after the fatal shootings, Johnson was found and arrested in Richmond, Virginia.

Under terms of his plea deal, the District Attorney’s office will recommend a combined sentence of 40 years to life in prison.

Prior to Johnson’s arrest, City of Newburgh police arrested two men who allegedly helped Johnson immediately after the incident.

Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced on April 20.

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