20-year-old N.J. cop candidate fatally shot

By Russell Ben-Ali
The Star-Ledger

NEWARK, N.J. A 20-year-old Newark police candidate died late Friday of gunshot wounds suffered during a scuffle with a teenager two days earlier at a home in Lyndhurst.

Jose Hall, the son of a Newark police officer, died at Hackensack University Medical Center where he had spent two days in the intensive care unit.

His accused assailant, a 17-year-old Newark boy, was initially charged as a juvenile with attempted murder. Those charges will likely be upgraded to murder on Tuesday, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.

Authorities said Hall was at the home on Second Avenue visiting a friend. At some point, he and the 17-year-old, who was dating the daughter of the homeowner, got into an argument. A scuffle ensued and Hall was shot twice at about 12:20 a.m., Molinelli said.

The teen fled but Newark police arrested him later Wednesday at a friend's home on Cary Street in Orange, Molinelli said. He is being held at the Bergen County Juvenile Detention Center in Paramus.

A gun, believed to be the murder weapon, was recovered during a search of the Orange home, Molinelli said.

Hall, a graduated of Barringer High School in Newark, had considered joining the military or the National Guard but decided to follow in his father's footsteps, friends said.

Joining the Newark Police Department had been a lifelong ambition for Hall's father, Jose Sosa, 39, and the experience clearly influenced his son, according to a Dec. 20, 1996, article in The Star-Ledger that quoted father and son during Sosa's graduation from the Newark Police Academy.

Hall, then 10, beamed with pride as Sosa graduated and described to a reporter the rigors of his father's police academy experience.

"My dad said they make you run in class and exercise," he said. "He said they teach him stuff about police, and he showed us the books they gave him, and he even told us stories from the books."

Hall recently passed the Newark Police Department's written test and scored well enough to be considered a candidate for the academy but had not yet taken his physical exam and other required tests, police sources said.

The physical exam probably would not have posed any problems for Hall, whom friends described as a physically strong weightlifter.

Hall was well-liked, respectful and always welcome, said Dean Lowenstein, who owns the home where the shooting occurred.

"If he could do anything to help anybody, he would do it," Lowenstein said.

Hall also was known for his humor.

"He always kept you laughing, he always had stories to tell," said his friend, Robert Brown, 37, of Newark. "He was a good all-around kid."

In addition to his father, Hall is survived by two brothers.

Copyright 2007 The Star-Ledger

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