Summit Mourns Slain Restaurant Worker

Murders are a rare thing in Summit, NJ. That is what makes the inexplicable killing of 47-year-old father-of-four Abelino Mazariego by a group of teens all the more shocking.

Details from NBC New York:

Mazariego, a native of El Salvador, finished his shift as a cook’s assistant at Dabbawalla Indian restaurant in Summit, N.J., and took a seat on a bench in the Summit Promenade, prosecutors claim.

A pack of teenagers approached him, and two started to beat him, prosecutors say. One recorded the attack. The second attacker, a 17-year-old, was also arrested; the teen who got it all on tape has not been charged.

Colin Crasto, manager and chef at Dabbawalla, said the fact that the beating was taped “makes it more horrific.” Crasto added that he’s never felt unsafe in the area, and that teens hang out outside in the summer just like anywhere else.

“We are totally shocked at what happened,” said Crasto.

Police then found Mazariego with severe head trauma and took him to Overlook Hospital in Summit. He never regained consciousness and died three days later, according to the New Jersey Local News Service.

At least a reported 12 witnesses saw the beating as it happened. From Star-Ledger:

At least a dozen young men were present when two Summit teenagers beat a man so badly he died three days later, an eyewitness to the attack said today.

Alex Ruiz, 19, said he was in the Summit Promenade last Saturday night with a group of buddies when two people in the group attacked Abelino Mazariego, 47, a Salvadoran father of four who had been in this country for 13 years.

A third teenager recorded the attack on his phone, the video later making the rounds among Summit’s teens, authorities have said.

ABC News reports that three teens are in custody for the crime.

The Union County Prosecutor’s Office has charged a 17-year-old whose name was not released because of his age and Khayri Williams-Clark, 18, with manslaughter.
A prosecutor’s spokesman said the attack remained under investigation. A third teen who allegedly made the videotape that investigators said was distributed to a number of Summit teenagers has not been charged.
Though Mazariego’s beating was the latest in several attacks on Hispanic people in the New York area, prosecutors said there was nothing yet to indicate it was racially motivated.
The case against Williams-Clark, who lives in Summit, was referred today to a grand jury after he waived his right to appear in court.

The Union County Prosecutor’s Office has charged a 17-year-old whose name was not released because of his age and Khayri Williams-Clark, 18, with manslaughter.

A prosecutor’s spokesman said the attack remained under investigation. A third teen who allegedly made the videotape that investigators said was distributed to a number of Summit teenagers has not been charged.

Though Mazariego’s beating was the latest in several attacks on Hispanic people in the New York area, prosecutors said there was nothing yet to indicate it was racially motivated.

The case against Williams-Clark, who lives in Summit, was referred today to a grand jury after he waived his right to appear in court.

third suspect, 19-year-old Nigel Dumas of Morristown, was arrested and charged in the beating over the weekend.

Citizens are fearful and concerned over the killing and over the increased presence of aggressive teenagers in what is a generally considered a safe, family-centered small city.

From the Alternative Press:

Nanette Kryston, owner of local business Kryston’s Hardware and president of Summit Downtown, said that throngs of teenagers hanging around the downtown has been a longtime problem. “Kids hang out around downtown and cause mischief. They do things like silly string the side walks and break planters. But, none of us thought it would escalate to something like this.”

Another local merchant, who requested not to be named, said that his store has frequently been harassed by teenagers. “The Promenade gets rowdy, with more than thirty or forty kids hanging around.”

The merchant said that he has contacted the police about the problem and not much has been done. “I don’t want to put pressure on the police. I know they are doing all they can considering the cuts,” he said.

Those cuts were hefty: Budget cuts in the wake of the economic downturn forced city officials to reduce spending. As a result, two openings with the Summit Police Department went unfilled, and police overtime was slashed. As the Alternative Press notes, this proof of the rise of aggressive teens shows the SPD is spread too thinly.

Meanwhile, residents are coming together to mourn the loss of  Mazariego, a hard-working family man, who had come from El Salvador to the United States 13 years ago.  A makeshift memorial, including a photo and flowers, is in place at the Promenade bench where the beating took place. A service is planned, in Spanish, at St. Teresa Of Avila Roman Catholic Church at 10:45 a.m. The church is located at 306 Morris Ave.

More from the Independent Press:

Mayor Jordan Glatt has encouraged donations to the Summit Area Public Foundation, which will help provide funds to ship the body of the late husband and father back to El Salvadore; to help with funeral arrangements; and to provide relief for Mazariego’s wife, two sons and two daughters. The mayor said it’s clear that people want to do something.service at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28. “We pray for peace and reconciliation, Oramos por la Paz y la Reconciliación,” said Rabbi Avi Friedman of the Jewish Community Center.

“Bring a flower as we walk through the streets of Summit to reclaim and cleanse them after the violence that defiled them. Gather at the City Hall parking lot. We will walk past the promenade where we will lay our flowers. We will end at the Village Green for a brief service there,” the rabbi said.

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