VENTNOR — Sunil Edla was planning for the holidays. He was days away from traveling to India to visit family. And he was thinking about his soon-to-be retirement.
According to family, 61-year-old Edla had a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks and next year, before he was fatally shot outside his Nashville Avenue apartment Thursday night amid a torrential coastal storm.
A 16-year-old from Egg Harbor City was arrested in Edla’s death, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner announced Friday night.
According to a statement from the Prosecutor’s Office, Ventnor police received a report of a man down about 8 p.m. Thursday. Authorities believe the teen, whose name is being withheld due to his age, shot Edla and took his car, a 2002 Subaru Forester SUV. Atlantic City police found the vehicle later in the 1600 block of Sewell Avenue.
Authorities tracked the teen using the Atlantic City Surveillance Center, Tyner said. He was found and arrested at 10:18 a.m. Friday in the 1500 block of Sewell Avenue.
The teen was charged with murder, felony murder, robbery, carjacking, unlawful possession of a handgun and possession of a handgun for unlawful purpose.
He is being held at the Harborfields Juvenile Detention Center in Egg Harbor City.
An autopsy performed Friday revealed Edla died of multiple gunshot wounds, Tyner said.
Cousin Raj Casula spoke about Edla on Friday while fighting back tears.
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“He was humble. He never argued,” Casula said of his cousin. “I helped him when he came to U.S. in 1987. I was very close to him.”
Edla, a father of two and grandfather, was a 30-year resident of Atlantic County and worked in Atlantic City’s hospitality industry.
Just before 8 p.m. Thursday, family members said, Edla was leaving his home to work the overnight shift at the North Carolina Avenue Rodeway Inn in Atlantic City.
According to family, he started his car then went back in the house briefly. After walking back down the second-floor apartment stairs, he was shot on the sidewalk and left for dead.
Ventnor police Chief Doug Biagi deferred all comment to the Prosecutor’s Office but said they’ve posted an officer in the neighborhood “just to ease anybody’s fears.”
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Family friend Dave Nethagani said Edla was a kind man and active in the community. Nethagani said Edla was best known for playing piano during church services at Chelsea Community Presbyterian Church in Atlantic City.
“Everyone was calling him and talking to him because he was leaving for India so soon,” said Casula. Edla had planned a two-month trip to India to visit his mother for her 95th birthday and celebrate Christmas with family.
“He had everything planned out for months. … He was leaving on the 27th and he planned everything he was going to do in India for every day,” Casula said.
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Neighbors said they were stunned something like this happened.
Fred Borsani and his family have lived on Nashville Avenue for 45 years. Borsani, 69, said Friday he didn’t hear the incident just two homes down, possibly due to the storm, but was alerted when authorities knocked on his door Thursday night.
“The police were out here until 12:30 a.m.,” he said.
Home security surveillance footage from neighbors down and across the street were turned over to authorities as evidence. Borsani said he installed security cameras to protect his property and outdoor décor from theft, but this is the first time he has been asked about a violent crime on his block.
“We lock everything up, we have sensors on the driveway,” said Borsani. Pointing out street-facing windows, he said, “I’ve considered bulletproof windows for the front.”