SOPD Report May 12 ‘Shots Fired’ on Valley St Stemmed From Seton Hall U. Students’ Planned Altercation

by Mary Barr Mann
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Police have arrested a fourth man in connection with an incident where shots were fired outside of 264 Valley Street in South Orange on the afternoon of May 12. No one was injured in the incident.

South Orange Police now report that the incident stemmed from a “planned altercation” between two groups of Seton Hall University students. A University spokesperson said that “the University condemns violence of any kind and will take all necessary action to enforce appropriate disciplinary measures.”

On May 12, South Orange Police arrested Paul Bruk, 19 years of age, of Mount Vernon, New York; Peter Opalka, 18 years of age, of Southbury, Connecticut; and Giovani Gelin, 18 years of age, of Brooklyn, New York, and charged them with Disorderly Conduct.

On May 24, SOPD reported that a fourth man, Veckins Paul, a 27-year-old Sicklerville, NJ resident, turned himself on May 23 in connection with the incident. Paul has been charged with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose, Aggravated Assault and Simple Assault. Paul is currently lodged at the Essex County Jail.

In a release announcing Paul’s arrest, SOPD stated that, “An investigation by South Orange Detectives indicates that two groups of Seton Hall University students had a planned altercation and during that a participant armed with a handgun fired three rounds into the air causing the crowd to disperse and at least one vehicle fleeing south on Valley Street at a high rate of speed.”

On May 24, a spokesperson for the University stated, “The health and safety of our campus community and our neighbors in South Orange are paramount, and we remain in communication with local law enforcement as the investigation of this matter continues. The University condemns violence of any kind and will take all necessary action to enforce appropriate disciplinary measures.”

On May 12, a representative of SOPD told Village Green that the incident took place near Ora Manor at 324 Valley Street, an off-campus residence for SHU students. Ora Manor is located one block south of 264 Valley Street.

This story was updated on May 25, 2022 with a statement from a Seton Hall University spokesperson.

From South Orange Police Chief Ernesto Morillo on May 24, 2022:

On May 12, 2022 at approximately 1:26am reports came into South Orange Police Department 911 that a large group was fighting in front of 264 Valley Street and possibly gunshots were heard. Officers responded and most of the crowd had dispersed however two individuals running from the scene were detained and after a show-up identification was conducted both were positively identified as participants in the fight and were both placed under arrest. Officers on scene were able to locate three shell casings in the street, detectives were notified and processed the scene further.

An investigation by South Orange Detectives indicates that two groups of Seton Hall University students had a planned altercation and during that a participant armed with a handgun fired three rounds into the air causing the crowd to disperse and at least one vehicle fleeing south on Valley Street at a high rate of speed.

Through multiple interviews and video surveillance the investigation led to the arrest of Veckins Paul, a 27 year old Sicklerville, NJ resident. Paul was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose, Aggravated Assault and Simple Assault. Paul turned himself in on May 23, 2022 and is currently lodged at the Essex County Jail.

Chief Ernesto Morillo
South Orange Police Department

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