Investigators are looking for a 14-year-old charged with murder in the killing of a seventh-grader in Atlantic City.
The city teen is charged with murder, aggravated assault and weapons offenses after he fired into a crowd of teens Wednesday afternoon, killing Angel Mercado-Santiago and wounding a 15-year-old Atlantic City High School student, acting Atlantic County First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton announced.
Because the suspect is a juvenile, the Prosecutor’s Office cannot legally release his name. But The Press of Atlantic City obtained a law-enforcement flier that identifies him as Jerome Ford.
Ford should be considered armed and dangerous, according to the information that was released to police. He is 5-foot-9, weighing about 140 pounds, with a birthmark on the bridge of his nose.
Mercado-Santiago had just left Pennsylvania Avenue School about 10 minutes before he died in the street. Witnesses have said a group of teens were fighting before the suspect got off his bike, pulled a gun from his waistband and began firing.
“It was something, I tell you,” Thomas C. Green recalled shortly after the shooting.”In broad daylight, too.”
Nurse Amy Heinze, who lives in the city, was driving by when she saw the scene.
She rushed to Mercado-Santiago, trying desperately to save him, she recalled Thursday.
“He got so cold so fast,” she said. “I did everything I could. I just want his parents to know he didn’t die alone.”
Known as Nuco to his family, the boy was born in Puerto Rico but had been living with relatives here. His mother, who still lives in Puerto Rico, was expected to arrive in the area overnight.
The other victim — whose name is not being released due to his age — suffered gunshot wounds to his leg and buttocks, according to the report. He is expected to survive.
Facebook comments by friends apparently at the scene when the shooting took place indicate they knew who the shooter was and that it may have been in retribution for an earlier incident involving someone else.
One tells another “(you’re) the reason he got rocked if (you) ain’t drawl out and hit Jerome.”
The Press is not sharing the Facebook names to protect the juveniles’ identities.
Ford is currently charged as a juvenile and, when apprehended, will be taken to the Harborfields Juvenile Detention Center in Egg Harbor City, pending a waiver to have him tried as an adult.
Anyone with information about the shooting or Ford’s whereabouts is asked to call the Major Crimes Unit at 609-909-7666.
Contact Lynda Cohen:
@LyndaCohen on Twitter