WEST ORANGE, NJ – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray provided details of the murder of Brendan Tevlin during the press conference held at the Essex County Courthouse on Monday, followed by a statement read by Allison Tevlin, Brendan’s mother.
Allison and Michael Tevlin, along with other family members, entered the third-floor media room at the Essex County Courthouse to hear the announcement that three arrests had been made in the murder of their oldest son, Brendan Tevlin, 19, of Livingston. The room became quiet as Acting Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, Chief James Abbott of the West Orange Police Department, Sheriff Armando Fontoura, Detective Anthony Ambrose and officers from various police agencies stood behind them.
Murray noted that the investigation was still active and ongoing, and as a result, several questions asked by reporters would not be answered. The shooting of Brendan Tevlin at the corner of Walker Road and Northfield Avenue in West Orange the night of June 25 as he waited for a light to change was categorized by Murray as a random robbery perpetrated by Ali Muhammed Brown, Jeremy Villagran and Eric Williams. Williams was named as the driver of the car that came up behind Tevlin and his Jeep Liberty as it was stopped at the light. Villagran and Brown approached the vehicle, and Brown, who Murray called the "shooter," shot 10 times from the passenger side of the jeep, hitting Tevlin eight times and killing him
The photos released by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office of the "person of interest" was Villagran, seen on surveillance footage running from the scene. Brown then, in a move eerily similar to the killings in Seattle, moved Tevlin to the passenger seat and drove the Jeep Liberty to the Ron Jolyn apartments at 275 Northfield Ave., where Villagran lived.
Murray noted that the purpose of the robbery was to take "personal items" from Tevlin, but exactly what they were was not specified. Murray said that none of the three were in a gang together, but they were investigating the the possibility of any affiliations. No information was provided on how the three connected to come up with a plan to commit robbery.
When Brown was arrested at a campsite in West Orange on July 18, he had in his possession a 9mm handgun, suspected to be the same gun used to kill the two young men in Seattle. Ballistics revealed that the same gun killed Tevlin. On June 29, Brown was determined to be responsible for a carjacking in Point Pleasant. Agencies working together were able to collect information that Brown may be hiding out in the West Orange area, and he was subsequently discovered in the woods behind 200 Mt. Pleasant Avenue.
In addition to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, the West Orange Police Department, and multiple police agents, Murray also said that Brown was "wanted by the US Marshals."
Villagran was arrested on July 8 on unrelated weapons charges. Williams was arrested Monday morning at 21 Perkins Drive in condos across from St. Barnabas Medical Center.
Commending the Tevlin family for their "around the clock" cooperation in the investigation, Murray said "this gives you some kind of idea of what kind of young man this community has lost."
Said West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi, “I applaud the hard work of the West Orange Police Department, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the multiple police enforcement agencies who worked together to solve this horrific crime. It is the direct result of their commitment, professionalism and dedication that those who decide to break the law in our town will be held accountable. The entire township offers our continued sympathies to the Tevlin family. They deserve justice and I can only hope that this will bring them some sense of closure.”
All three are being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, with Brown's bail set at $5 million and Villagran and Williams' bail set at $1 million apiece.
Following the press conference, Allison Tevlin, Brendan's mother, read a prepared statement as her husband Mike stood by her side. She thanked all the agencies "that dedicated so much of their time aggressively investigating this horrific crime committed against our son and brother."
She then thanked the towns of Livingston and West Orange, St. Philomena's Church, Seton Hall Prep, the University of Richmond and the Irish American community for their love and support over the past five weeks.
Speaking in a firm voice, Allison Tevlin said that Brendan's murder was "not targeted" as had been reported, but rather, "that he was the innocent victim of a random crime committed by strangers."
Tevlin said her family wanted to give support to families impacted by "epidemic level of gun violence in our country today."
In her closing comments, Allison Tevlin said, "We will continue to live our lives with 'Good Vibes and Easy Living,' a saying Brendan often used, so good can triumph over evil."