WEST ORANGE, NJ - While President Obama gave an address to the nation Wednesday night on the terror threat posed by ISIS, the West Orange and Livingston communities continue to struggle with the death of Brendan Tevlin at the hands of a self-admitted jihadist in an unprovoked attack on June 25.
New York radio personality Todd Pettengill, in a Wednesday morning broadcast on WPLJ-FM radio, criticized the American government and law enforcement for not bringing Tevlin's murder at the hands of Ali Muhammad Brown to national attention. He also criticized the national news media for their lack of attention to Tevlin's death.
Brown himself classified Tevlin's death and the deaths of the three men in Seattle in court documents as "justified kills of adult males, and not women, children or elderly people and that they were part of a 'vengeance' mission'."
The Essex County Prosecutor's Office repeatedly categorized Tevlin's death as "targeted." In fact, during Gov. Chris Christie's visit to Turtle Back Zoo on July 16, Sheriff Armando Fontoura said, "This young man's death was not a random act. We are making good progress on the case. ...You don't have to look over your shoulder...this is the safest neighborhood in New Jersey." Tevlin was killed only a few blocks from Turtle Back Zoo, located in the South Mountain Recreation Complex.
On Aug. 4, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office announced the arrests of three individuals in connection with the death of Tevlin, 19, of Livingston: the shooter, Ali Muhammad Brown, 29, who has also been charged in the deaths of three men in Seattle; and Jeremy Villagran and Eric Williams, both 19, of West Orange. All pleaded not guilty.
The Essex County Prosecutor's Office,who have been leading the investigation into Tevlin's murder, will not provide any information regarding Brown and his self-proclaimed jihadist ties. On Aug. 21, Katherine Carter, public information officer for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, told TAP into West Orange that "Under the ethics rules that apply to prosecutors in New Jersey, we are not permitted to discuss statements made by a suspect."
In late August, information was provided by the Seattle Prosecutor's Office regarding interviews with Brown at Essex County Correctional Facility. Court paperwork charging Brown in the slaying of Seattle resident Leroy Henderson noted comments regarding Tevlin, saying, "My mission is my mission between me and my lord. That's it...My mission is vengeance, for the lives, millions of lives are lost every day. All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government," Brown continued. "So a life for a life."
In fact, all information regarding Brown has, for the most part, come from Seattle, and since the latest charges leveled against Brown, no information regarding the case, Brown, or the connection (or lack thereof) between Villagran, Williams, and a third assailant reportedly from East Orange and still unidentified, have been provided.
Pettengill himself posted on the Facebook page in honor of Tevlin, "Good Vibes and Easy Living: Remembering Brendan Tevlin," "I was honored to be "your voice" this morning. I know that our message was heard loud and clear thanks to all of you. The Tevlin family will remain in our hearts and prayers. God bless you all." Pettengill categorized Tevlin's death as terrorism, saying, "The bottom line is this, domestic terrorism is already here, and we need to talk about it.”
West Orange and Livingston residents were quick to react to the emotional radio show, which featured not only comments from Pettengill but call-in comments.
West Orange resident Jacky Crann, whose son Brian played in the Brendan Tevlin Lacrosse Festival on Aug. 2, posted, "Sitting in my car alone... listening to Todd Pettengill speak about #BrendanTevlin.... bawling my eyes out... God Bless you Brendan may you forever rest in peace."
Livingston resident Amy DiNicola, who grew up with members of the Tevlin family in South Orange said, "I hope we all remember that this was an act of terrorism, and not get sidetracked into making this a racial incident ~ we are Americans; Brendan was murdered by an extremist animal!!! Let's keep his beautiful spirit alive by honoring his motto ~ "Good Vibes & Easy Living" Remembering Brendan Tevlin ~ especially on the eve of September 11th! Love and hugs to my friends the Tevlins & the Magniers xoxoxo."
Former WOHS TAP team member and Rutgers freshman Chris Hanley noted: "The horrific event that occurred in my backyard is something that has stayed with me. Every late night drive home and every red light. I was never lucky enough to meet Brendan, however the more I have followed up on the story the more I feel connected. He lived, the same exact way in which my friends and I do. There is no reason why that could not have been any other college freshman driving around one of the most beautiful streets in West Orange at 12 midnight. I am increasingly disheartened at the stories our media chooses to cover. Brendan's story is one that should unify Americans (Not just people from Essex County). Domestic terrorism occurred whether we wish to believe it or not. Let's be a nation that assures this never happens again. #RIPBrendan."
Indeed, for every teen and every parent in the West Orange area, where Brendan Tevlin attended high school at Seton Hall Prep; for his hometown of Livingston and for friends and family in West Essex, South Orange, and Maplewood; and for the surrounding community, the pain and sadness of his senseless death will not soon be forgotten.
To listen to Pettengill's program, go to: http://www.plj.com/common/page.php?pt=brendan&id=31604&is_corp=0#sthash.8c6LyJkT.gbpl.