Law & Justice

Union County Prosecutor Announces Elizabeth Man Charged in June 25 Shooting Spree

Pictured left to right: Elizabeth Police Director James Cosgrove, Elizabeth Police Chief Patrick Shannon, Acting Prosecutor H. Parks, Acting Chief of Investigators John McCabe, Jr., and Police Officer-in-Charge Chris Debbie. Standing behind Parks is Sheriiff Joseph Cryan. Cosgrove remarked, "I have been at this job for 48 years, and I have never seen such an incident." Credits: Fran Sullivan

ELIZABETH, NJ - Calling the crime “an unprecedented, horrific event in Union County,” Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced at a press conference today that 22-year-old Elizabeth resident Todd West has been charged in connection with three homicides and one non-fatal shooting that occurred in Elizabeth on Thursday, June 25. Todd is also charged in a homicide that occurred May 18.

The shooting spree began at approximately 2:30 a.m. when 28-year-old Dennis Vega was shot at the intersection New Point Road and Seventh Street. Later that night, Jamil Payne was found lying in the middle of South Park Street. About an hour later, shots were fired in front of 320 Clark Street where Kelvin Nelson was shot multiple times. All three men were pronounced dead at the scene. Less than 10 minutes later, Elizabeth Police received reports of more gunfire at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Julia Street. Richard Marte was suffering from severe wounds. He was transported to the hospital and is expected to recover. A .38 caliber, six-shot revolver was used in all of the June 25 shootings.

In addition, law enforcement has established that West was responsible for the May 18 murder of his 29-year-old cousin Michael Thompkins who was found shot to death in a second floor hallway of his apartment building on Parker Road.

Sign Up for E-News

West knew Payne and Thompkins, but it is not known if he had any connection to the other victims.

After the shooting spree, West fled to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he is currently being held for the murders of two people in Allentown and one in Easton. The Union County Prosecutor’s Office is working with the Pennsylvania authorities. No court date in Union County has been set, but bail stands at $5.5 million.

The motive is unclear, but Michael Henn, supervising assistant prosecutor for the Homicide Task Force, called the shootings “opportunistic, rather than random.” Acting Prosecutor Parks stated that the crimes were not gang or drug related.  

Acting Prosecutor Parks thanked the members of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force, the Elizabeth Police Department, The Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Union County Police Department, and members of law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania, who worked around the clock to solve the case.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Union Prosecutor's Office Homicide Task Force Detective Sgt. Jose Vendas at 908-358-3048, Detective Danika Ramos at 908-451-7739, or Detective Andrew Dellaquila at 908-274-5771.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Thu, April 19, 6:00 PM

Linden Public Library, Linden

Friends of Linden Library annual book sale

Arts & Entertainment Other

Fri, April 20, 6:00 PM

Linden Public Library, Linden

Friends of Linden Library annual book sale

Arts & Entertainment Other

Sat, April 21, 6:00 PM

Linden Public Library, Linden

Friends of Linden Library annual book sale

Arts & Entertainment Other

Lifelong Elizabeth and Elizabeth Police to Hold  “Walking Safety ” Event

April 18, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Lifelong Elizabeth Program, under Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, will be holding another “Walking Safety Presentation” for Elizabeth residents on Thursday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to Noon, at the Elizabeth Public Library at 11 South Broad Street.

Elizabeth Police Department Sergeant Brian Clancy will provide participants with tips on walking safely and the ...

Countywide Free Scrap Metal Recycling Event to be Held in Rahway and Cranford

UNION COUNTY, NJ - A free Countywide scrap metal recycling event is scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 21 in Rahway and Cranford.  

A wide variety of metal goods, from household appliances to gutters and sheds, are included in the program.

“This countywide program helps to fill a service gap in some Union County municipalities that currently have no pickup for scrap ...

Westfield Firefighters Extinguish Small Blaze at Rock 'n' Joe's

April 15, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ - A small electrical fire started around noon at Rock 'n' Joe's on Prospect Street on Saturday.

According to Deputy Chief Anthony Tiller, the fire was caused by an electrical shortage in wires in the ceiling, sending smoke into the neighboring businesses on both sides.

“It created a smoke condition," Tiller said. "Once we located the fire, we ...

Nightmare Commute for Raritan Valley Line Commuters Monday

April 17, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- Raritan Valley Line commuters spent more than three hours trying to make their way home from New York City on Monday following the breakdown of a train near Union Station during rush hour.

At 9:47 p.m., NJT tweeted:

Raritan Valley Line westbound train service is operating on or close to schedule following an earlier disabled NJ Transit train near Union ...

Thank You, St. Joseph's Volunteers

April 16, 2018

Thank You from St. Joseph Social Service Center

In recognition of National Volunteer Week, we would like to express our gratitude to the countless volunteers that serve the poor and homeless at St. Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth (  Whether you make a sandwich, collect toiletries, tutor in the job program, make soup, wrap Christmas gifts, donate food, ...

Union County Freeholder Board Reminds Seniors on New Medicare Cards

April 18, 2018

In recognition of May as Older Americans Month, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds Union County’s senior adults that they will receive new Medicare cards from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this summer.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is the federal agency that runs the Medicare program. It is a branch of the US Department of ...