Jersey Shore town shaken after teen kills four family members in New Year’s Eve shooting
A New Year’s Eve celebration turned into a family nightmare when an autistic 16-year-old fatally shot his father, mother, sister and his grandfather’s partner at their Jersey Shore home, officials said.
The teen used a Century Arms semi-automatic rifle to kill his parents, Steven and Linda Kologi, his 18-year-old sister, Brittany, and 70-year-old Mary Schultz, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.
The suspect opened fire less than 20 minutes before the family would have rung in the New Year at their Long Branch, N.J., home, officials said.
Police responded within a minute of receiving a 911 call. Officers found the four victims and arrested the 16-year-old — the youngest of four siblings — without incident.
“Thankfully it was uneventful,” Gramiccioni said of the arrest at a Monday morning press conference. “It didn’t require any force.”
The teen — whom the News is not identifying because of his age — was charged as a juvenile with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, according to officials. He was expected to make an initial appearance in court tomorrow.
It’s unclear if the suspect’s case would be elevated to adult criminal court, a spokesman for the prosecutor said.
One of the teen’s brothers and his grandfather, Adrian Kologi, were also in the home at the time of the shooting but were not injured.
The shooter’s grandmother, Carole Kologi-Zawacki, was overwhelmed with grief when she heard of the killings.
“Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God,” Kologi-Zawacki, 66, said from her Bradenton, Fla., home.
Her husband, Gregory Zawacki, 63, said the 16-year-old suspect is autistic.
“We didn’t know they had a gun in the house,” he said, adding that the Kologis were not gun enthusiasts or hunters.
Zawacki said his wife spoke to the family by phone the other night and everything seemed normal.
“You can hear my wife, it was totally a shock,” he said.
The shooting sent shock waves through Long Branch, a sleepy middle-class town about an hour south of New York City. Police had cordoned off Kologis’ home and the entire block surrounding it.
A neighbor who declined to give his name said Steven Kologi, 44, coached baseball.
“It’s totally out of the blue,” the neighbor said. “He’s my son’s baseball coach, for years and years. I was the assistant coach. We're just stunned.”
Steven listed his occupation as a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service in a 2009 bankruptcy filing. Linda, 42, was collecting unemployment at the time, according to the filing. They had four children.
Brittany was a student at Stockton University in New Jersey and had returned home for the holidays.
“Coming home as a student is so confusing like do I unpack?” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Do I live out of a suitcase for a month? Do I just leave everything on the floor?”
Schultz and Adrian Kologi own a home in Oakhurst, N.J., according to records. A man who answered the door at the home on Monday declined to talk.
With Terence Cullen