A Newark man has been sentenced to 24 years in state prison for being responsible for a fatal shooting sparked by an argument over a post made on social media, acting Union County Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport announced Friday.
Nathaniel Price, 28, must serve at least 85 percent of that sentence before becoming eligible for parole under the terms set down Friday by state Superior Court Judge Lisa Miralles Walsh.
Officials say shortly after 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 21, 2017, Roselle Police Department patrol units responding to the 1000 block of Rivington Street found 21-year-old Tyquan Johnson sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle, having sustained multiple gunshot wounds, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Armando Suarez, who prosecuted the case. Johnson was rushed to University Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead later the same day, Suarez said.
An investigation led by the Union County Homicide Task Force and Lt. Jose Vendas, assisted by the Roselle Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit, revealed that the shooting followed a prolonged and heated argument and physical altercation involving more than half a dozen individuals, sparked by a post made on Facebook that Price believed insulted a relative of his.
The investigation quickly resulted in Price being identified as a suspect, and he turned himself in to police three days after the shooting.
A search of the home outside of which the argument and physical altercation took place produced the handgun used in the shooting, and Price’s DNA was found on multiple parts of the weapon.
Price pleaded guilty in May to a single count of first-degree aggravated manslaughter and two related weapons offenses.
He declined to speak when given the chance by Judge Walsh, prior to being sentenced.
“The utter and complete senselessness of this crime cannot be overstated,” Suarez said. “He (Johnson) had his entire life ahead of him, and it was lost … over mere words.”
Johnson’s mother, grandmother, and cousin all read statements or had statements read into the record during the sentence hearing.
They described the victim, employed at Newark Liberty International Airport, as a hard worker and an innocent bystander who was never even directly involved in the argument or physical altercation over the Facebook post.
“I don’t understand why you took my son away from us,” Johnson’s mother said to Price. “But I would have taken those bullets for him.”
Walsh called the crime “particularly sad,” and noted an absence of premeditation. She asked the family to bring a framed group of photos of Johnson they had brought to court to the bench so she could take a closer look.
“The point where the game changed (that night),” she said, “was when Mr. Price (produced) a firearm.”