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UPDATE: Toms River Native, TR North Grad Meets Sad End In Short Hills Carjacking

Dustin Friedland, 30, was shot and killed in parking garage, his SUV was recovered Monday in Newark.

Dustin and Jamie Friedland (Facebook photo)
Dustin and Jamie Friedland (Facebook photo)
The Toms River native shot and killed during a carjacking outside The Mall at Short Hills Sunday night was a Hoboken attorney who was athletic and "made life better for everyone around him." 

Dustin Friedland, 30, was shot in the head when he and his wife returned to their SUV shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

Friedland was pronounced dead at 11:45 p.m. Sunday at Morristown Medical Center. His wife was not injured but also transported to the hospital, the prosecutor's office said.

His Facebook page said he was a graduate of Toms River North High School and a 2006 graduate of Bucknell University.

Nick Malfitano, a Patch writer who was Friedland's classmate at Toms River North, said Friedland was "a good man and a great classmate of mine at Toms River North who made life better for everyone around him."

He said he was "intelligent, funny and always ready with a smile and a laugh."

Edward Keller, principal of Toms River North, was not principal when Friedland attended, but he noted he was an avid swimmer and rower.

"We’re all, of course, shocked and saddened by what happened," he said. "When we found out it was one of our alumni, it really hit home.

He said people speak highly of him, and say he was "a great kid, the kind of kid who really went with the flow."

The Asbury Park Press reported that in 1999, Friedland was named Eagle Scout for Troop 29 in Toms River and in 2002, the 19-year-old Friedland posed as George Washington for an America’s Day celebration at the Pine Beach Elementary School.

He competed in the N.J. Rowing Championship in 2001, and as a swimmer, placed third in the Toms River North-Brick Memorial 500-yard freestyle meet in 2000, according to Press files, as reported Monday.

More recently, Friedland had been a member of the Hoboken Harriers Running Club. Running club members expressed shock and offered their condolences Monday on the group's Facebook page.

"He was such a nice guy," HOHA member Joe DeFlora wrote. "He and his wife were only married a short time. She must be devastated."

Friedland, a 2009 grad of Syracuse Law School, was a project manager/estimator at Neptune-based Epic Mechanical Inc., according to his LinkedIn profile.

The shooting briefly placed the mall on lockdown as a precaution, according to ABC News. The lockdown was lifted at approximately 10 p.m. Sunday when officials determined the shooting was an isolated incident and not a shooting inside the mall.

Access to the parking garage's fifth level was blocked off Monday. A guest services representative would not say whether security was increased since the shooting, but said the mall "has excellent security out there everyday, as well as members of the Millburn police department."

Michael J. McAvinue, the mall's general manager, said they wouldconsider reviewing their procedures in the aftermath of the shooting, according to NJ.com.

Some shoppers said Monday the incident isn't going to stop them from returning to the mall.

One woman, who declined to be identified, said she and her husband shop the mall a few times a week.

"It's a great place," she said.

She said Sunday night's incident could have happened anywhere and added, "if anything, I feel safer today than any other time I have been here because of all the security here today."

The shooting outside The Mall at Short Hills comes just more than a month after a black-clad man armed with a .22 caliber rifle opened fire in the Garden State Plaza in Paramus.

The chaotic scene there forced officials to swarm en masse to the locked-down shopping plaza in an effort to hunt down 20-year-old Richard Shoop, of Teaneck.

Shoop did not appear intent on injuring anyone during his slow-paced walk among frenzied mall shoppers, according to Bergen County officials, who said he fired several rounds into the air before taking his own life inside a mall store.

Sunday's fatal carjacking may be related to a car-theft ring that has recently struck the tri-state area, The New York Post reportedMonday.

The gunmen didn’t target Friedland specifically, an unnamed source told The Post. More than likely they were simply after his $65,000 Range Rover, he said.

In July, a couple in a high-end Maserati was carjacked at gunpoint on Watchung Avenue in Chatham, approximately 2 miles from The Mall at Short Hills.

A number of carjackings have occurred in recent memory at the mall, including one in 2009, one in 2006, and another in 2002, according to NJ.com.

The Essex County Crime Stopper's Program is offering a $10,000 reward for any information on Sunday night's killing, according to the prosecutor's office. No arrests have been made.

If anyone has any information or tips on Sunday night's incident, call the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force line at 1-877-847-7432.

Joseph Gerace, Dan Nee and Zak Koeske contributed to this story.
Joey Joe December 21, 2013 at 07:34 PM
@grace - the very sad thing is Dustin is someones Son... I don't know how the family is holding it together. If Dustin was my Son I wouldn't be able to even get out of bed. A parent should never have to bury their kid(s). I think Dustin's Uncle said it best when he said "I want them dead." I think we all do... I go to Newark a lot, which is where the savages who perpetrated Dustin's murder are from . I was born & raised in the Ironbound section back in the 50's & 60's and still go to the restaurants in my old stomping grounds up there. The Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian food is great, as are the people. Well, I'll tell ya what, the next time I go, I'll be packin - even thou the Ironbound Section (AKA Down Neck) is one of the neighborhoods that has remained "savage free." I feel bad for the good black people - they always get lumped in with the animals that commit the murders...purely because they are the same color. Unfair yes...and trust me they are scared too. They are afraid to speak up, because they know that a savage will eat it's own.
barbara December 21, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Agree Joey Joe, also a "down necker" here too, Malvern Street, Five corners,....haven't been back there in many years, but have big family from there, always was a great place....feel so bad for this family, so bad....
grace December 22, 2013 at 11:40 AM
@joey my brother in law goes there all the time to get portugese food and other meats and breads he loves...so it isnt all of newark..
Joey Joe December 22, 2013 at 05:15 PM
@grace - I know it's not all of Newark... believe me I know that the Ironbound section is probably one of the safest up there.. But just this past week a Mom and her adult son were coming back from a supermarket. She and her son were both punched out and her wallet went bye bye... So the animals are invading my old neighborhood... but I'm betting that the "Down Neckers" will fix that situation real soon IF "down neck" is anything like it was when I grew up there.

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