Two Elizabeth men charged with murder of teenage soccer player

Authorities arrested two Elizabeth men last week for a fatal shooting that took place in Elizabeth in September, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel, Elizabeth Police Director Earl J. Graves and Elizabeth Police Chief Giacomo Sacca jointly announced Friday.

Tyreek Howard, 31 and Ali Karim, 18, both of Elizabeth, are charged with first-degree murder, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, and second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose in connection with the shooting death of Paul Baez, 17, of Elizabeth.

Tyreek Howard

Shortly before 2:30 p.m. on September 27th Elizabeth Police Department Patrol units responded to the 100 block of Fulton Street where they found Baez, having sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

He was subsequently pronounced dead, said Assistant Prosecutor Jillian Reyes, who is prosecuting the case.

Baez was described as ‘a son, a friend, an athlete and a community member’ on a Go Fund Me page seeking donations to defray the family’s expenses.

An investigation led by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force and the Elizabeth Police Department, with the assistance of the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit and the Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit led to the identification of Howard and Karim as the suspects. They were both arrested Wednesday in Elizabeth and subsequently lodged in the County Jail pending initial Court appearances.

Ali Karim

“We appreciate the hard work and the collaboration with our local law enforcement agencies who assisted our Office in locating and apprehending the suspects,” Prosecutor Daniel said. “And we hope that this arrest can bring some small measure of comfort to all those grieving Mr. Baez.”

This matter is ongoing and anyone with information is being urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force Sergeant Lamar Hartsfield at (908) 451-1873, Detective Sean Holcomb (908) 358-8377 or Elizabeth Police Department Detective Edward Benenati at (908) 328-6972.

Convictions on crimes of this nature are punishable by terms of up to life in state prison.

The Union County Prosecutor’s Office said these criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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