An unidentified 16-year-old New Jersey boy has been taken into custody after fatally shooting his mother, father, sister and a family friend just before the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, authorities said.
Neighbors of the family in Long Branch, a beach town on the Jersey shore, said that the boy struggled with mental illness. A friend of the family told KTLA sister station WPIX in New York City that the teen has special needs.
"It it appears the 16-year-old boy used a Century Arms semi-automatic rifle to kill his victims," a news release from the Monmouth County prosecutor stated.
The victims – the Kologi family – lived in a red brick multifamily home on Wall Street in Long Branch.
When neighbors saw police outside Sunday night, they assumed officers were there to break up a party. But then they heard the gunshots.
"One boy had just a T-shirt on and no shoes," said a neighbor, Joan Berg, adding she saw several young men standing in her driveway. "What I thought was that they ran out of there."
The Associated Press reported the suspect's brother and grandfather were at the home and were not targeted or injured.
"The police are running up with rifles and standing behind their cars," added Berg, "I’m thinking, 'Oh my God, what is going on?'"
Police took the 16-year-old into custody without incident. The suspect has not been identified because he is a minor.
Steven Kologi, 44, and his wife Linda Kologi, 42, as well as their daughter, Brittany Kologi, 18, were all killed. Mary Schultz, 70, a family friend, was also killed.
Friends of Brittany Kologi showed up to the scene on Monday night to leave flowers in her memory. They said they worked with her at a local ice cream store and they went to Long Branch High School together. They knew little about her brother, the alleged shooter.
"I only knew he was special needs," said Victoria Villanueva, Brittany's friend. "There was never an indication that there was ever a threat."
Police were called by someone who was in the home at around 11:43 p.m. Investigators say police had never been called to the house before.
The rifle the teen allegedly used to kill his family was legally owned and registered to someone in the home, WPIX reported. He is facing four counts of murder and one count for the unlawful use of a weapon, according to the station
"Boy was schizophrenic," said another neighbor. "Yes, sick. In hospital, in house, in hospital, house."
The teen will make his first court appearance Tuesday morning in a hearing that will be closed to the media and to the public because he is a minor.
A friend set up a GoFundMe page for the family's funeral expenses, the AP reported. It had raised more than $13,000 in six hours Monday.
"Linda, Steven, and Brittany were all beautiful people with the kindest hearts you could imagine," the page stated.