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    Three Republicans and four Democrats are vying for the open New Jersey House seat.

    After one potential Republican congressional candidate decided not to run, a third GOP hopeful has emerged to seek his party's nomination to succeed Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.

    Investment banker Antony Ghee of Totowa joins Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris, and lawyer Martin Hewitt in the Republican race.

    Ghee, who was a lawyer before becoming a director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch's global wealth and investment management chief investment office, said Republicans should look at someone other than a current officeholder.

    Pro-Trump Republican gets big boost

    "Do we nominate a career politician in an age when most people don't trust their government or the people serving, or do we seize this opportunity to do something bold and energize our party heading into the general election?" Ghee said in his announcement.

    "Without question we must do the latter, which is why I am announcing my candidacy for Congress."

    Like President Donald Trump, he made overhauling immigration laws a top plank of his campaign, talking about securing the borders and ending illegal immigration, but not mentioning the 17,400 unauthorized immigrants in New Jersey brought to the U.S. as children that could face deportation.

    Ghee also promised to work with the president and members of Congress of both parties to secure federal help for the Gateway Tunnel project under the Hudson River, even as the Trump administration appeared to renege on earlier funding promises. 

    His announcement included endorsements from state Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, herself once mentioned as a potential candidate; and two Assembly members, Kevin Rooney, R-Passaic, and Christopher DePhillips, R-Bergen. The three state legislators, running together, won a hotly contested Republican primary last year.

    Webber earlier this week picked up the support of a fellow Morris County Assembly Republican, Anthony Bucco, who also had considered running for the seat.

    Frelinghuysen, R-11th Dist., announced in January that he would not seek re-election after 24 years in Washington. As as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he is the most powerful member of the New Jersey congressional delegation. 

    The 11th District is considered a toss-up race by the two Washington-based publications that track congressional races, the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections.

    Five Democrats are seeking their party's nomination, Mikie Sherrill, who has the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; Tamara Harris; Mitchell Cobert; Jack Gebbia; and Mark Washburne.

    Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    Favorites, contenders and more for each section of the tournament.


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    As we mourn mass shooting victims, thousands of stories go untold

    Priya Patel has been held up six times, three at gunpoint, in her family-owned liquor store in Irvington since her husband was murdered there three years ago.

    "It doesn't scare me anymore," said the 28-year-old widow. "I loved my husband so much. I've lost so much already, so losing my life doesn't scare me."

    She said this last week, one day before the Florida high school shooting. The day after, Feb. 15, would be the anniversary of her husband's murder.

    Amit Patel was one of 13,286 people across the country shot and killed in 2015. That was the year of the Islamic terror attack in San Bernardino, which left 14 people dead, and the racist shooting at the Charleston, S.C., black church, which killed nine people. Nearly forgotten in the "hate and race" sensational narratives of those two stories was the shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, which also left nine people dead.

    If you noticed the repeated use of the word "people" in that paragraph, it was purposeful. Those of us in the media should start attaching it to the numbers.

    The Last Vegas shooting in October didn't leave "59 dead."

    It left 59 people dead. And 59 broken families.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns 

    The Second Amendment was designed to protect us from government but, in its modern application, it prevents government from protecting us.

    As the names and faces of the latest mass killing victims scroll on our TV sets, and circular political debate over gun violence and gun rights rages on, the individual deaths of people like Amit Patel get lost in the "thoughts and prayers" refrain.

    They are not acknowledged by news teams or politicians, not honored by prayer vigils or other public memorials.

    Who cries for the Amit Patels of our country, except those closest to them? Those thousands upon thousands of people, shot and killed in the commission of robberies, domestic violence and other altercations, or just randomly murdered during reckless drive-by gunfire, where anyone close to the intended target is at risk.

    Amit Patel, 28, fell into the category of "witness intimidation."

    He was alone behind the counter of the Roseway liquor store on Halloween night, 2013, when a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, a black skull cap and a face covering, came in and held him up at gunpoint.

    Patel handed over the cash: a $50 bill, 13 tens, and some singles.
    According to court records, the robber left the liquor store, ran into an alley, stripped himself of the black hoodie with skull graphic on the back, skullcap and mask. He also left the gun, a silver Smith & Wesson .38, used in the hold up.
    After Patel was robbed, he called 911 and Irvington police responded within minutes.
    Officers saw a man fitting the description of the gunman, coming out of an alley. He was a curious sight, now wearing only a tank top and blue jeans, despite the rainy night with temperatures in the 40s.

    Patel was taken to the area to ID the suspect, but he told police he wasn't sure if it was the same man who had robbed him. Later, however, he identified the clothing and gun that police had recovered in the alley.

    The robber, identified as Rick King, still held the exact amount and denomination of bills Patel described as being taken. Subsequent DNA tests on the abandoned clothing matched King. 

    King was arrested and sent to the Essex County Correctional Facility, where he spent 10 months until released on $120,000 bail. As his trial for the robbery neared, King used his freedom to eventually go back to the liquor store and execute Amit Patel.  He forced the defenseless man to the floor and shot him in the head.

    In the past week, we've learned much about the angry, armed young man  who killed 17 of his classmates. We wonder why Nikolas Cruz was able to get a high-powered weapon. We ask why law enforcement didn't notice the pitch of his violent messages on social media.

    Rick King, on the other hand, lived his life in the criminal justice spotlight. His adult record dates to 2002. His first "unlawful possession of a weapon" charge came in 2003, the second a year later. Two more followed in 2004, one in 2006, another in 2008, and the arrest in 2013 for the robbery. That's seven. And he was convicted of four.

    His juvenile record, under state law, is sealed but two law enforcement sources said it was extensive.

    So, while we ask how a crazed teenager, at 19, was able to purchase a high-powered rifle, we should equally ask how career criminals, such as Rick King, get their hands on so many guns, one after another, leading to the deaths of people, such as Amit Patel, who are as innocent as those 17 kids in Parkland, Fla.

    Priya Patel, 28, is trying to sell the store. Her father-in-law, who helped run the store, is back in India, ailing after the death of his son. She, too, will return to India, broken-hearted. Her American Dream is over, destroyed by American violence. Just like the dreams of 17 sets of parents today in Florida. 

    "I wish we had children," she said. "Then at least I would have something to remember him by."

    The Patel family tragedy is compounded by this irony: Priya Patel said her husband had not been asked to testify against King. Police had enough evidence to convict him without his testimony.

    For King's murder trial, the evidence included video of him walking to the store, firing the shot, leaving the store and ditching his clothes. His cellphone also had multiple searches for "Amit Patel," before and after the killing.

    In December, he was found guilty and, two weeks ago, sentenced to life in prison, without parole. While the impulse is to say, "finally," it is still too late for Amit Patel.

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@starledger.com. Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook.


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    Favorites, contenders and more on each section of the girls basketball state tournament.


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    The shooting took place on South 19th Street around midnight

    Police are investigating the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old man early Thursday in Newark, authorities said.

    Ishmail Anthony, of Newark, died after being gunned down on the 500 block of South 19th Street shortly after midnight, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

    No arrests have been made and no other details were available.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    The person was struck in Orange late Wednesday night

    A pedestrian was struck and killed in a hit-and-run crash in Orange on Wednesday night, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. 

    The crash occurred in the area of Joyce Street and Scotland Road at approximately 10:15 p.m. No arrests have been made.

    Additional information about the incident, including a description of the vehicle involved, was not immediately available, the prosecutor's office said. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    The best performances at Eastern States Championships by N.J. athletes


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    See the latest girls basketball Top 20 for Feb. 22.


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    Former St. Peter's Prep offensive coordinator Bill Fitzgerald will be named the next head football coach at Seton Hall Prep.

    Seton Hall Prep has its new man.

    Former St. Peter's Prep offensive coordinator Bill Fitzgerald has been named the Pirates' next head football coach, according to a press release sent from the school Thursday. He will be taking over for Vito Campanile, who vacated the position two weeks ago to become head coach at Bergen Catholic.

    Campanile spent the last three seasons with Seton Hall Prep, going 10-19, including a 6-3 debut season in 2015 before finishing 2-8 in both 2016 and 2017. Campanile said he "felt we had made tremendous strides at Seton Hall," upon his hiring at Bergen Catholic and "I know how close we are to climbing to the top. I really feel that way."

    Fitzgerald, a 2003 Union College graduate and former assistant at Dumont High School and Utica College, has been operating as St. Peter's Prep's offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach since 2008, overseeing some of the top offenses in New Jersey in that span.

    “He’s a part of our family and a part of who we are," St. Peter's Prep head coach Rich Hansen said of Fitzgerald. "I’ve known him since he was a little boy. This has been a goal of his, and it’s a compliment to us. It’s great for him. It’s what everybody wants to do in this business eventually so he’s going to work really hard. He’s going to make sure his team is prepared and give them everything he has.” 

    In the last five years, the Marauders have averaged no less than 29.5 points per game in any season and have reached four of the last five Non-Public Group 4 final, highlighted by a championship in 2014 where they averaged 45.5 points per game en route to the title.

    Fitzgerald has helped develop a slew of Division I quarterbacks in that time, including Brandon Wimbush (Notre Dame), Johnathan Lewis (Rutgers) and potentially another one in Class of 2019 QB Massai Maynor, who threw for 2,443 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Marauders' last season during their run to the Non-Public Group 4 final.

    "I am honored to be given this opportunity to become the head coach of the Seton Hall Prep football program," Fitzgerald said in the press release. "A program rich in history and tradition for over a century. I understand the incredible responsibility that this leadership position demands and I am thrilled to begin this journey with an outstanding group of players, coaches, administrators and alumni."

    Fitzgerald's offenses in the last five years have averaged 29.5 points in 2017, 33.3 points in 2016, 37.4 points in 2015, 45.5 points in 2014 and 44.7 points in 2013, while St. Peter's Prep has gone 46-13 in that time.

    “I wish him the best," Hansen said. "I know he’s going to be successful. I know he’s going to enjoy being a head coach, but he’s going into the job with his eyes wide open. He fully understands the challenge and is going to work hard to make Seton Hall a good program again.”

    JJ Conrad may be reached at jconrad@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jj_conrad. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.


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    A breakdown of what $161 million from an increase of the state's gas tax funded.


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    Ron Muhammad, a long time street vendor, keeps Newark's Brick City nickname close to his heart.

    Brick City, a hardcore nickname for Newark, means everything to Ron Muhammad.

    "It's the story of my life,'' he said. "Everything I do is Brick City."

    The longtime vendor said he believes he was the first to have placed the scrappy label on T-shirts in 1992, while Newark rappers such as Redman, the Artifacts and Lords of the Underground popularized the logo in lyrics, giving status to the city's hip-hop culture.

    After 25 years, Muhammad is still part of the brand, which gets its name from the city's cobblestone and red brick streets and demolished public housing high-rises.

    "Who would of thought that?" he asked. "I wasn't thinking about Brick City lasting 25 years."

    MORE: Recent Barry Carter columns 

    Muhammad is 80 years old now. Surprised me, too. Until Monday, I hadn't seen him since 1997, when he was part of a story I wrote about the Brick City name, one that signifies resilience and toughness.

    Just about every day, more so in the summers, the Newark native catches the bus to his son's store on Market Street to help make and sell the T-shirts that people still want. The name is on hats, jeans and hoodie sweatshirts, too.

    "He can't do anything else but this," said Kareem Hunter, his son. "He lives, breathes and eats Brick City. That's his thing."

    Living in another state couldn't stop Muhammad from representing his roots. He went to Clearwater, Florida, in 2008 to relax and visit his daughter and grandson. He wound up staying seven years, but found a gig in which he did embroidery, sending Brick City items back to his son.

    He returned three years ago and stays busy, not allowing age to dictate his steps. He walks a little slower these days, using a cane for balance, dealing with arthritis in his hip.

    "When you get up there, everything starts cracking up," said Muhammad, who doesn't let it stop him from riding the train to New York to check out potential merchandise for the logo.

    Sid Battle, a Newark vendor who has known Muhammad for 30 years, said he's not surprised by Muhammad's get-up-and-go attitude, which many vendors admire.

    "He's the founding father of this," Battle said, speaking about the Brick City brand. "Why shouldn't he be doing this? Ralph Lauren is still doing it. He (Muhammad) should keep doing it."

    Muhammad has always been involved in clothing. He owned a high-end store on Bergen Street in 1967 that sold leather jackets, pants and coats.

    Old-timers in this city should remember its name: the Mark III. It was also the name of a popular car at the time, which is the reason he selected it.

    Muhammad owned several other stores in Newark neighborhoods, but business never picked back up after the riots and he had to close. Forever the entrepreneur, Muhammad headed to downtown Newark in 1985 to work as a vendor and sell clothing and accessories from a table in front of Bamberger's. He'd be there every day, including Sundays, when the stores on Broad and Market streets were closed.

    Among the many items he sold, Muhammad started to market T-shirts with just "Newark" printed on them, a response to an out-of-town customer who had asked if he sold that type of clothing.

    "You couldn't find nothing with Newark on it," he said.

    Later, Muhammad changed the design to say, "Newark Brick City" and then "Brick City" by itself.

    It's difficult to pinpoint when the name started, but it could be heard locally in 1988. Newark rapper Lakim Allah, formerly Lakim Shabazz , told me in 1997 that he used the name in his rhymes after hearing Mr. Magic, a New York rap DJ, say it on his WBLS radio show in 1983.

    With Muhammad, though, the name was a hit on the T-shirts, which were also configured to feature Newark streets and schools.

    Joseph Hedgepath, a former Newark vendor for 30 years, said the timing was right. "People wanted to identify with something," he said. "Ron is a genius."

    Jeff Billingsley, chief executive officer of Cobblestone Media in Newark, said Muhammad inspired a generation of young entrepreneurs to follow his lead and represent the city through merchandise.

    "He started a trend," said Billingsley, who was surprised that Muhammad was still grinding. "God bless him."

    Over the years, the name has been used in business, sport leagues, cultural events, government and film.

    "Brick City," the documentary, premiered in 2009. There was the Brick City Development Corp., until the city renamed it the Newark Community Economic Development Corp. in 2014.

    Now there's Brick City Tires; Brick City Live, a blog about Newark; Brick City Emigree, a blogger who documents personal observations of the city; and Brick City Supper Club. Downtown, a store on Market Street uses the name. A restaurant, Ono Grinds Poke' has a menu item called Brick City Bowl.

    MORE CARTER: Blind Divas gear up for empowerment pageant | Carter 

    In my 1997 story, the essence of the name was captured in an accompanying photo of Muhammad standing on Prince Street, its cobblestones exposed underneath the blacktop. Stella Wright, a public housing high-rise, was the backdrop, as Muhammad, 59 then, leaned against a telephone pole. His outstretched arms were draped with Brick City T-shirts.

    The high-rises are gone, but a few red cobblestone streets are left. It peers through broken asphalt in certain spots on East Runyon Street. But on Concord and Clifton, the entire red brick streets are untouched by time.

    It is as solid as Muhammad.

    "I'm thankful and grateful to be involved with the name, and hopefully people in the city keep embracing it."

    Barry Carter: (973) 836-4925 or bcarter@starledger.com or nj.com/carter or follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL


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    The victim was shot in front of his home with family and friends watching

    A former convict was sentenced Thursday to 55 years in prison for shooting a man to death in front of his family outside his home, authorities said. 

    Mangual.jpgLuis Mangual (Essex County jail) 

    Luis Mangual, 33 of Newark, was convicted last year of gunning down Jose Alfaro on the 700 block of Mount Prospect Avenue in December 2013.

    The shooting followed a verbal dispute in the North Ward neighborhood. 

    "This was a tragic case where the victim was murdered outside his home in front of his friends and family members," Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Carlo Fioranelli said in a statement. "I hope the sentence imposed today gives his loved ones a sense of closure."

    Mangual has been convicted four times since 2003, officials said. That year he was convicted of arson in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In later years, he was separately convicted of obstruction of justice, trespassing, and drug possession.

    The murder of Alfaro, 39, took place while Mangual was on parole. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     


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    Volunteers describe Mama as "a very friendly cat."

    ex0225pet.jpgMama 

    WEST ORANGE -- Mama is a young adult cat in the care of West Orange Trap Neuter Vaccinate Release.

    Rescued as a stray, volunteers describe her as "a very friendly cat" who is good with dogs but will do best in a home without other cats.

    Mama has been spayed, is FIV/FeLV negative and up-to-date on shots.

    For more information on Mama and other adoptable felines, email wotnvr@gmail.com or go to wotnvr.petfinder.com. Since its founding in 2015, the nonprofit group has found homes for more than 150 felines.

    Shelters interested in placing a pet in the Paw Print adoption column or submitting news should call 973-836-4922 or email essex@starledger.com.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    Athletes to watch and medal predictions for all 24 races.


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    MAPLEWOOD -- S.H. Ross Meat Market and Groceries opened on Maplewood Avenue in Maplewood in 1905 and is shown shortly after opening. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey None of the individuals in the photo are identified. If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history in your community, please call 973-836-4922 or send an...

    MAPLEWOOD -- S.H. Ross Meat Market and Groceries opened on Maplewood Avenue in Maplewood in 1905 and is shown shortly after opening.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    None of the individuals in the photo are identified.

    If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history in your community, please call 973-836-4922 or send an email to essex@starledger.com. And, check out more glimpses of history in our online galleries on nj.com.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.