Police are still investigating the shooting death of Columbia High School student Moussa Fofana, who was gunned down on Sunday night at Underhill Field while walking with a friend, but so far there have been no arrests.
“We are still interviewing numerous witnesses and this is an extremely active investigation,” said Chief Asst. Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday afternoon. Witnesses include people who were at or near Underhill that night, as well as people the authorities came upon after the shooting.
The 17-year-old CHS student who was with Fofana and who was shot in the leg has since been released from the hospital. Fennelly wouldn’t comment on what information the boy was able to provide to police.
Meanwhile, authorities were meeting on Wednesday with members of the Fofana family, including Moussa’s mother, Hawa.
Speaking to Village Green by phone on Tuesday evening, Hawa Fofana said she was perplexed that there hadn’t been any arrests made yet. “I don’t understand, it’s been how many days now?” she asked.
Fofana said “I really don’t know anything” about why her son had been killed after leaving his house at around 7:30 p.m. to spend time with his close friend on Sunday night. “Was it an argument? I don’t know.”
Moussa was “very happy all the time, very respectful,” said his mother. “I’m confused; he was not a troublemaker.”
Officers responded to Underhill on Sunday shortly after 9:30 p.m., after receiving reports from neighbors of gunfire in the area, and found Fofana with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at 10:24 p.m.
Fennelly said detectives were canvassing any video cameras in the area for footage that might show activity that night. “Detectives are out there,” he said.
Referring to the Instagram and other social media posts with people claiming responsibility for or involvement in the homicide, Fennelly would only say on Tuesday that “all leads are being fully examined and explored.”
Asked about a reward, Fennelly said that detectives needed to first vet all available information about the investigation. “A reward is not yet being issued, but it’s being considered.”
Hawa Fofana said on Tuesday that the authorities had not yet released the body, and that as a Muslim, she wanted to bury her son soon.
Fofana, who immigrated to the US from Liberia in 2002 and raised Moussa and a younger son as a single mother, said her elder son was always smiling and lighthearted.
“The only things he took seriously were school and soccer,” she said. Moussa’s dream was to be a professional soccer player.
A GoFundMe account set up to assist the Fofana family had raised more than $106,000 by Wednesday afternoon.