ELIZABETH – Last week, a Union County Superior Court judge ruled that the defendant in last December’s fatal shooing outside a Union skating rink could be tried as an adult.
Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow released the name of the suspect, Jaquan Bell, after the ruling. Bell’s name had been withheld from the press because he was just 16 at the time of the shooting.
Nearly 700 people gathered at Skate 22 in Union for a Christmas night party that was heavily promoted on websites like Myspace, Romankow said. The party, which drew people between the ages of 13 and 25, was scheduled to go from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. but ended early due to numerous fights that broke out inside the rink, the prosecutor said.
According to the police investigation, a fight between two groups of teenagers escalated around midnight. Shots were fired and Jean D’Haiti, 16, of Elizabeth was struck and died at the scene at 12:29 a.m.
The Union County Homicide Task Force arrested Bell on March 4, 2008 at his school. He is charged with first degree murder and weapons offenses, said Romankow.
Judge Douglas M. Fasciale set bail at $400,000. Bell will continue to be held at the Juvenile Detention center.