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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    The mixed pit bull named Dallas is recovering at an animal shelter in Tinton Falls.

    An abandoned pit bull now named Dallas is recovering at an animal shelter in Tinton Falls after being left alone in a Linden apartment hallway for an undisclosed amount of time. 

    Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 11.22.04 AM.png 

    "He's quite skinny but he's super cute, and affectionate and becoming more and more bright as time goes along," Emily Woods, a doctor at the Animal Humane Society Tinton Falls shelter said.

    "He's still recovering and he's got to gain some more weight before we think about adoption, but we'll see how he does over the weekend."

    Woods said she received the dog Friday morning after his stay in a Fairfield hospital Wednesday and Thursday.

    Linden police confirmed they responded to calls of a neglected animal from a building on East 18th Street Wednesday afternoon and discovered the animal who appeared to be neglected and malnourished. 

    According to the Associated Humane Society (AHS), Popcorn Park Shelter's Facebook page, the pit bull was placed in a carrier, "in the unheated hallway of an apartment building, to stay until he starved to death." An Newark officer with the humane society was contacted and he was taken to the hospital. 

    The 23-pound mixed pit bull is a little over 1 year old, according to the humane society.

    "Thoughts of sadness and disgust fill our minds when we think of what this poor dog went through, thanks to a heartless and cruel individual who was supposed to be, "caring for him," said a representative posting on the shelter's Facebook page. 

    Humane society workers said the dog's skin began breaking down because the animal was only fed every other day.

    The owner could no longer care for the animal because they had cats in the apartment that did not get along with the dog, according to the Humane Society.

    Linden Police confirmed that the investigation is now being handled by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). 

    According to the humane society's Facebook page, the pit bull's owner, whose name they did not disclose, will face charges.

    On Facebook, Dallas received comments in support of his recovery and even some chipping into adopt the dog. 

    Those wanting to donate to AHS' rescue fund can do so here.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

    Find on Facebook.

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    Though temperatures will drop below freezing this weekend, homeless shelters say they are working as they would any other day

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    On New Year's Day, smoking on the boardwalks in Wildwood and North Wildwood became illegal.

    As the snow pounded the Garden State and its neighbors, did you give in to the temptation to look ahead to balmier days, when the biggest challenge will be deciding which of the Jersey Shore beaches you'd choose to unfurl your umbrella on?

    If you're a non-smoker, policies newly enacted by two shore communities just made the choice easier.

    On New Year's Day, lighting up on the boardwalks in Wildwood and North Wildwood became illegal. Violators will have to pony up $250 in North Wildwood; in Wildwood, they face fines of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail.

    These municipalities mean business. And while the penalties may seem draconian, the motivation is laudable.

    Skeptics argue that the new ordinances infringe on smokers' rights, but we like to see them more as an expression of beach-goers' rights to enjoy a boardwalk and a shoreline free of noxious smoke and other peoples' discarded cigarette butts.

    Trump may put oil drilling rigs off N.J. beaches

    Recent research may be casting doubt on the long-accepted role that second-hand smoke plays in causing heart disease, yet there's little question that the haze left in a smoker's wake diminishes the beach-going experience.

    There's also the danger factor: When his municipality was weighing the benefits of the ban last spring, North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello noted that dozens of small fires have broken out every year from cigarette butts thoughtlessly left behind.

    With the new policies, the two Jersey Shore towns become part of a burgeoning nationwide trend.

    The online magazine Slate just this week cited a report by the nonprofit Americans for Nonsmoking Rights, which found that 80-percent of the American population currently lives under smoking bans pertaining to workplaces, restaurants and bars.

    An additional 3,400 jurisdictions forbid smoking in outdoor areas such as stadiums, parks and beaches.

    Within our own borders, smoking on the beach is prohibited in Beach Haven, Cape May Point, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Long Branch and Seaside Park, among other municipalities.

    Matt Doherty, mayor of Belmar, told a New Jersey radio station that after his Monmouth County borough instituted its smoking ban in the spring of 2014, merchants along the beach noticed an uptick in business.

    Although some smokers gripe that they're being stigmatized by all this anti-smoking sentiment, no one is telling them they have to give up their guilty pleasure. They have every right to smoke - they just don't have the right to befoul everyone else's environment when they do so.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.

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    The cases include the first person to stand trial on a terrorism charge at the state level in connection with a homicide.

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    It's not exactly bathing suit weather.

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    Family and community members in Long Branch remember the victims of the New Year's Eve shooting.

    Days before she was shot and killed in Long Branch, Mary Schulz, 70, took part in a family art project painting rocks. Her's read: "Love Makes The World Go Round".

    Schulz's family said they are now remembering their sibling through those words.

    "We will always remember Mary and the beautiful message," said Catherine Lefurge, Mary's sister. "Mary was quiet, thoughtful and caring with a heart as big as the universe."

    Schulz was one of four people killed in Long Branch on New Year's Eve. The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office identified the other victims Monday as Linda and Steven Kologi and their 18-year-old daughter, Brittany Kologi.

    Minutes before midnight and the start of 2018 authorities said the Kologi's 16-year-old son, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, shot four people at close range in different rooms of the house on Wall Street. He hit each person with several bullets, authorities said.

    The gun was legally owned by a family member who resided at the home, though authorities have not said who owned it.

    A family friend, an unidentified woman in her 20s, fled the house when the shots began, along with the teen's grandfather, Adrian Kologi, and another family member.

    Schulz was the third of nine children and graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School in 1965, according to her sister. She attended Manor Junior College in Jenkintown, Penn. and went into a career in human resources. She was also active in community theater.

    "Mary lived a seemingly simple ordinary life with extraordinary boundaries of love and accomplishment," Lefurge said. 

    Schulz met Adrian Kologi in 1985 and has since become part of his family, participating in family events and attending his grandchildren's football and softball games, Lefurge said.

    The funeral for Mary Schulz is Saturday at St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church in West Long Branch.

    Linda Kologi, 44, was born in Jersey City and lived in North Bergen before settling in Long Branch for 25 years, according to her obituary

    Linda in 2013 worked as a bus driver for the public schools in Long Branch, according to the city's board of education meeting minutes. She was also an avid buyer of lottery tickets.

    Gary Patel, a shop owner across the street from the Kologi home said she bought a ticket from his store the day she was killed.

    Steve Kologi Sr., 42, grew up in Long Branch and worked at various companies, including Kellogg, the U.S. Postal Service, and Clayton Concrete, in Lakewood, his obituary said.

    "Steve Sr. was one of the most productive guys in the warehouse. He always wanted to learn and took coaching well," Roger Daniels, Steve's manager at Kellogg, said. "He was one of those guys that never got involved in drama and never understood why people complained and didn't want to work hard."

    Brittany Kologi attended Long Branch High School. She graduated in June 2017 and was a freshman at Stockton University. She loved to paint and draw, according to her obituary.

    Her friends described Brittany as a "ray of sunshine" who was a leader on her school's softball team and was always there for her friends.

    "Brittany was the best person in high school," Alyssa Julian, a classmate of Brittany's, said. "Everyone loved her. She didn't deserve this." 

    Visitation services for the Kologi family will be Sunday and the funeral Monday at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church in Long Branch.

    Alex Napoliello contributed to this report. 

    Erin Banco may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinBanco. Find on Facebook.

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    N.J.'s estimated 8,500 homeless sought shelter in soup kitchens, community centers, tents and elsewhere as temperatures approached record levels this weekend. Watch video

    The night before temperatures dipped into the single digits, Lisa F. turned on her propane heater and tucked herself into three sleeping bags. 

    Although just a thin tent separated her from frigid air that dipped in or near the single digits, she said she was warm as she slept in her makeshift home in a wooded area off a Route 9 commercial strip in Howell. 

    "We're hanging in there," she said Saturday morning as she turned up her heater.

    Lisa, a part-time caterer, is one of 13 people staying at a homeless encampment run by Minister Steve Brigham. Across the state, an estimated 8,500 homeless people sought shelter in libraries, community centers, soup kitchens or places like Howell's homeless camp as temperatures approached record levels this weekend. Temperatures were expected to reach minus 4 degrees early Sunday morning in some parts of the state.

    In most towns, police officers and shelter workers drove circuitous routes searching for the homeless and a way to help them. In Trenton, officers on endangered person patrol looked in parks, the train station and other places the homeless gather.

    'I'm scared I'm going to be frozen'

    While many found shelter during this nearly two-week stretch of frigid weather, some did not. Michael Fleming, 57, was found dead in the snow outside of Charlie's Liquor Store by the Vineland police on Thursday morning. Police said he died in area where some of the indigent population of Vineland are known to frequent, and likely died of exposure to the cold. 

    Another still unidentified man was found dead outside in downtown Elizabeth Friday morning. It's not known if he was homeless, but police said his death may be weather related. 

    Ramon Garcia prefers to brave the cold; sleeping in a room of strangers isn't for everyone, the 44-year-old from Camden says. He also doesn't like that staff want you to do paperwork and will "kick you out" early in the morning.

    "I do worry 'cause I know (Saturday night) the temperature's going to be very low, and this morning was 9 degrees, and where I am is very windy," he said. "I'm scared I'm going to be frozen."

    Simone Yarell, director of operations at Newark's new winter shelter on Sussex Avenue, said like most places, the homeless are required to leave at 8 a.m. and return at 4 p.m. But because of the frigid temperatures, Yarell is letting residents stay around the clock.

    "That's what makes me sleep better at night," she said. "Knowing this place is being run right and nobody has to be put out on the street."

    'The cold don't let me sleep'

    shelterAris.jpgA makeshift home is created from a drainage pipe in Camden. (Joe Warner | For 

    Garcia doesn't get much sleep where he's staying now, in an unused concrete culvert in an abandoned lot in Camden. He's blocked the ends of the culvert with cardboard, boards and, ironically, a large plastic banner advertising two- and three-bedroom apartments for rent.

    "I just sit there and shake, 'cause the cold don't let me sleep," he said Saturday after lunch at Cathedral Kitchen, a nonprofit on Federal Street that provides hot meals and groceries.

    By day, Garcia said he finds warm places to go, from the day shelters that let him take a shower, to the Mexican food store where they let him hang out for an hour, and sometimes give him coffee.

    "When night falls, I hide up in my place," he said.

    Garcia wore a sweatshirt, jeans and work boots, and had jacket draped over his chair, but no gloves or hat. Before he left the soup kitchen, volunteer Mary Ann Gregory wrapped her plaid scarf snuggly around his neck. "Pull it over your face," she told him.

    Jeff Carr, 30, of Camden, said he has been homeless for two years and when winter comes, he gets prepared. "I wear extra clothing," he said, including two jackets, two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks on Saturday. "I gotta make sure I have gloves."

    This recent extreme temperatures don't impact him much, he said. After leaving the shelter each morning, he heads for the library or the programs where he knows he can at least sit and be warm before it's time to move on.

    "It's pretty much the same," he said. 

    'It's a life'

    In Howell, snow blanketed most of the three-acre encampment and sunk at least three tents. A sign at the entrance to the camp read "Home for the Homeless." Ornaments and wood chimes hung on bare branches throughout the camp. Some tents were for cooking; others for storage.

    "Snow is difficult, it can crush your tent with just two inches," said Brigham, 57, who shoveled walking paths to get around and spent Thursday sweeping the snow off tents to keep them from collapsing. 

    "People are hunkered down ... more so than normal," he said as he walked through more than a foot of snow to reach the camp's prayer garden. "I'm more concerned for the homeless outside the camp."

    Many of the encampment's residents were off at work, mostly at part-time or per diem jobs, on Saturday morning. People came by to donate propane tanks to keep the tents warm, asking how everyone was coping.

    Chad White, of Toms River, stopped by to drop off a case of propane. "I wanted to see if everyone was OK," White said. "It's so cold." 

    A few of those staying at the Howell homeless camp went to nearby warming centers, unable to bear the brutal cold. But most stayed, warmed by their small propane heaters inside their Walmart tents. Large plastic coverings helped insulate the tents.

    "It's my home," said Olga Savka, 63, an Ukrainian immigrant who has lived inside her tent for nine months. "First time in my life I stay outside but I stay warm, I have good friends, it's a family."

    Sitting inside her cozy tent, decorated with photos of her late husband and trinkets gifted to her by strangers, Savka said here, she was able to cook, eat and help others.

    "It's a life," she said, surrounded by Ukrainian books, a basket of pears and Mickey Mouse stuffed animals. 

    Taylor Tiomoyo Harris and Kevin Shea contributed to this report.

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find on Facebook.

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    On Jan. 19, a new set of beekeeping regulations that, if adopted, the beekeeping community says would wreck their hobby worse than Colony Collapse Disorder.

    Janet Katz, like most beekeepers, must protect her hives from extreme cold and heat, drought, disease, starvation, the loss of a queen and even bears.

    Now, after two decades of nurturing bees for honey and wax, and  to pollinate her gardens, she now has a new worry: the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

    "They should be encouraging beekeeping, not making it harder," said Katz, president of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, and who has four hives on her two-acre property in Chester Township.

    But harder it will be. With fees, waiver applications, setback requirements and other zoning gobbledygook -- all the things that bureaucracy does to suck the honey out of a comb.

    On Jan. 19, a new set of beekeeping regulations that, if adopted, the beekeeping community says would wreck their hobby worse than Colony Collapse Disorder.

    CCD is a mysterious syndrome whereby worker bees vacate a hive, leaving the queen to fend for herself.

    Backyard beekeeping, a learning tool for scouts and 4-H clubs, as well as inquisitive, environmentally-minded children and adults, will all but die under the new regulations, beekeepers say.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns  

    New hives on properties less than one-quarter acre will be prohibited. Since a typical neighborhood lot size of 50-by 150-feet is 7,500 square feet, or 1/10th of an acre, bye-bye to bees in Bayonne.

    That might be understandable, though a typical urban or suburban home does have enough backyard space for a garden and flowering plants to keep the bees fed and pollinating and happy, without having to swarm into a neighbor's yard.

    But the new restrictions for the one-quarter acre to five-acres make no sense to anyone in beekeeping circles.

    Even in residential zones where agricultural use is permitted, the state is restricting beekeepers to two hives. For perspective, five acres is roughly the size of four 100-yard football fields. A typical beehive box is 18-inches by 18-inches, a mere square half-yard. So, bye-bye to bees in Basking Ridge.

    "These density requirements are out of whack with national standards," said Bob Kloss, who has 15 hives on two-acres in rural Three Bridges.

    Kloss has been collecting data that shows even high population areas, such as Long Island, allow twice has many hives on parcels than does New Jersey.

    Worse still, the beekeepers say, are new requirements that would force beekeepers to build flyway barriers of six-feet or higher. "The flyway barrier must be made of a solid wall, fence, dense vegetation or some combination thereof."

    Translation: more work, fewer beekeepers. Add to that new requirements for continuing education for beekeepers, even hobbyists.

    "No other livestock caretakers have to have continuing education," Katz said. "I can have chickens, goats, sheep ... but if I have bees, I have to take courses. It doesn't make sense."

    Next up are the waivers. The application process resembles something akin to building a house, including providing lot and block number and blah blah blah of the property and notifying all neighbors within 200 feet. The waivers will be granted by municipalities, which will also set application fees. And that defeats the original purpose of the legislation that created the new regulations, Katz said.

    "The point here was to have state guidelines, so beekeepers wouldn't be at the mercy of every local jurisdiction," she said.

    The beekeepers say a situation in Peapack-Gladstone with a "nuisance beekeeper" created too much negative input as the new regulations were being discussed.

    "One beekeeper, on one street, in one town, made it worse for the rest of us," Katz said. 

    In an email response to questions, the Department of Agriculture said "when drafting proposed regulations, we must take all parties into consideration. Those parties include the beekeepers, residents who are not beekeepers, and the bees themselves. Additonally, we considered the health of the bees and their ability to effectively pollinate different areas."

    This story really begins with two episodes that devastated the honey bee population.

    The first was the varroa mite epidemic that began killing them off about 15 years ago. Next came Colony Collapse Disorder in 2006, which hit North America and Europe and persisted for several years. By 2013, 10 million beehives were wiped out. 

    Before those events, Katz said, her organization had about 400 members. After, the membership blossomed to 1,300. She estimates there are 3,000 beekeepers in the state.

    "The colony collapse raised huge awareness about the importance of bees," said Erin Gilmartin, who has been a beekeeper for five years and manages 30 hives at the 57-acre Hillview Farm in Meyersville.

    The proliferation of beekeepers added to the bee population and the increased pollination of fruits, vegetables and flowers. It also created a bounty of two other New Jersey staples: ordinances and fees.

    "We began to see ordinances to restrict beekeeping in some towns," said Katz. "Some towns wanted to charge for permits."

    In 2013, Republican Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, whose 12th District covers the farm belt towns of western Monmouth and Ocean counties and northeastern Burlington, introduced legislation to put all beekeeping regulations under the Department of Agriculture.

    The beekeepers were thrilled.

    "We thought the Department of Agriculture would help us," Katz said. "We were wrong."

    Instead, the beekeepers say, the proposed regulations are more restrictive.

    "This will really hurt the growth of beekeeping as a hobby," Katz said. "And we need these bees." 

    In New Jersey - remember, the Garden State - bees pollinate some of the state's most productive crops, beginning with tomatoes. The state's blueberry and cranberry industry needs honey bees, as do garden variety fruits and vegetables; cantaloupes and watermelon, cucumbers and peppers.

    "My bees pollinate the apple orchards across the street," Katz said. "And they still have apples on the trees (long after the picking season)."

    The public comment period on the new rules closes on Jan. 19. The Department of Agriculture position is that "comments made through that email will be considered in making any adjustments to the proposed rules."

    The email address is

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


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    It's always a good idea to think about how winter affects pets as much as people. BluePearl Veterinary Partners has some tips for protecting pets during freezing weather.

    * The most common-sense tip is - don't leave a pet in the cold for too long. Bring pets inside if you start to see redness in their tails or ears or they start to shiver. Once inside, help them clear any ice between their toes.

    * Find a de-icer that is pet-friendly if you use one on your driveway and sidewalks. Various toxins and even salt can cause problems for pets, as they have a tendency to lick the substances off their paws.

    * Winter can make it hard for pets to find their way back home because ice and snow mask familiar scents and paths. Make sure dogs and cats that are allowed to roam have identification tags and, if possible, are microchipped.

    * Dogs can't say "My arthritis is acting up in this cold." If a pet struggles when getting up and moving around the house, a trip to the vet might be in order. Also, make sure there is soft and warm bedding available in cold weather.

    * A sweater or coat for short-haired dogs is a wise investment. Rather than being decorative, items like these are highly functional in cold weather.

    Until the temperatures rise to springtime levels, it's a good idea to make sure your pets are as comfortable in cold weather as you are.

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

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    Killings dropped significantly in Newark and in Camden County, typically epicenters for violent crime.

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    The funeral for Mary Schulz, a 70-year-old family friend, also shot on New Year's Eve was Friday

    The funeral for three members of a Long Branch family shot and killed on New Year's Eve will be held Monday morning in the city.

    The funeral for 18-year-old Brittany Kologi and her parents, Linda Kologi and Steven Kologi, is scheduled for 11 a.m. at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church on Ocean Avenue in Long Branch. A family friend, Mary Schulz, 70, was also gunned down just before midnight on Dec. 31 in the Kologi home. 

    The Kologi's 16-year-old son has been charged with four counts of murder, authorities said. His name has not been released by authorities because he is a juvenile. The obituaries for his parents list the son's name as Scott Kologi. A motive for the killing has not been disclosed. 

    Brittany Kologi 18, attended Long Branch High School. She graduated in June and was a freshman at Stockton University. She loved to paint and draw, according to her obituary.

    'Greatest parents I could ask for,' Son recalls family killed in quadruple slaying

    Her friends described Brittany as a "ray of sunshine" who was a leader on her school's softball team and was always there for her friends.

    "Brittany was the best person in high school," said Alyssa Julian, a classmate of Brittany. "Everyone loved her. She didn't deserve this." 

    Linda Kologi, 44, was born in Jersey City and lived in North Bergen before residing in Long Branch for 25 years, according to her obituary. Linda worked as school bus driver in Long Branch.

    Steve Kologi Sr., 42, grew up in Long Branch and worked at various companies, including Kellogg, the U.S. Postal Service, and Clayton Concrete, in Lakewood, his obituary said.

    kologi-family.jpgLinda and Steven Kologi, at left, and Brittany Kologi, 18, will be remembered at a funeral Monday in Long Branch.  

    Steve and Linda are survived by their sons Jonathon Ruiz, Steven Kologi and Scott Kologi. They are also survived by Steven's parents, Adrian Kologi and Carole Kologi-Zawacki as well as Linda's sister Michelle Molyneaux and her husband Richard. 

    A wake for the three was held Sunday in Long Branch. 

    The funeral for Schulz was held Saturday at St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church in West Long Branch.

    The four were each shot multiple times with a semi-automatic rifle at close range, officials said. 

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Erin Banco contributed to this report. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.


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    Calvin Johnson is already in state prison for a parole violation following a 2002 manslaughter conviction

    A 40-year-old from Neptune Township has been indicted on charges he shot and killed a man outside a VFW post in 2016, officials said.

    c-johnson.jpgCalvin Johnson (Department of Corrections) 

    Calvin J. Johnson faces charges of murder and three weapons offenses, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement Monday. 

    Johnson gunned down Corey Basden, 33, on April 18, 2016 in the parking lot of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on Corlies Avenue in Neptune City, authorities said. 

    Basden, of Neptune City, was pronounced dead at about 8:15 p.m. in the rear parking lot, where a large crowd had gathered. 

    An official with knowledge of the investigation told NJ Advance Media at the time that Basden was at the VFW hall for a repast, a gathering that takes place after a funeral.

    Johnson was arrested in October following an 18-month investigation. 

    Officials are still investigating as they believe other witnesses might have information. 

    Johnson faces 30 years in prison if convicted of murder. He is being held at Northern State Prison in Newark for a parole violation, according to department of corrections records. Johnson served more than 12 years in prison for drug and aggravated manslaughter before being released in December 2014.

    In December 2002, Johnson accidentally shot his pregnant girlfriend in the head while trying to clear a round from his gun, according to The baby was stillborn.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook. 

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    A 31-year-old was wounded after a verbal dispute

    A 25-year-old Brick man charged with attempted murder and burglary following a shooting last year in Long Branch has been indicted on multiple charges, officials said. 

    Donovan Wesley allegedly shot and wounded a 31-year-old man following an earlier verbal argument at a home on West Columbus Place on Oct. 8, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

    The wounded man brought to Jersey Shore University Medical Center where he was treated and later released.

    Man indicted on charges in fatal shooting outside VFW hall

    Wesley was a fugitive for a week before he was arrested. He was indicted Monday on charges of armed burglary, attempted murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.

    Wesley has previous convictions for carjacking and unlawful possession of a weapon, according to state corrections records. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook. 


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    The family was gunned down in their Long Branch home just minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve.

    The members of the Kologi family who were killed inside their home on New Year's Eve had a way of bringing people in the community together, said a priest who eulogized them at their funeral Mass.  

    That was evident Monday morning, he said, as St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church on Ocean Avenue in Long Branch was packed with hundreds of mourners who paid their respects to Steven, Linda and Brittany Kologi, a family that was "good in every category that counts."

    "I use those words, drawn together, very purposely, very intentionally, because I can tell you with complete certainty ... this very special mother, father and daughter had that rare and priceless blessing ... that gift to draw people together," said Father John Butler.

    "I've heard this so many times from so many people: simple, ordinary, down to earth, modest people -- in every good and positive sense of that phrase," Butler continued. "Good people, good family, good friends, good neighbors. Good period."

    He said Steven Kologi, 44, was a "guy you would want to have on your team."

    "A good husband, good provider, good friend," he said. "A big guy, athletic guy ... hard-working and a Yankee fan, maybe his only shortcoming," Butler, who is a Mets fan, quipped, drawing a chuckle from the people sitting in the pews.

    Linda Kologi, 42, was remembered as a "devoted mother" whose "whole life was for her children," Butler said.

    "Her calling in life was motherhood," he said. "Even her birthday, once in a while, would fall on Mother's Day. She was consistently kind and caring to family and friends alike."

    Her only daughter, 18-year-old Brittany Kologi, was a hard-worker just like her parents, Butler said. She was an honors student at Long Branch High School and was in her freshman year at Stockton University in Galloway.

    Her childhood friend, Shannon Nutley, wrote in the funeral program that Brittany Kologi "lit up a room and she lit up my life like any friend I could ever ask for."

    "There is no single word to describe the kind of person Brittany was because she was so many things," Nutley wrote. "She was silly, hilarious and ridiculous in the best way. Everyone had something good to say when they were talking about Brittany."

    The closed caskets of the Kologi family, each draped in white cloth, were stacked in the middle of the aisle near the altar. Friends and family sat in two rows of pews beside the caskets. The front of the altar was still covered in poinsettias from Christmas Mass.

    As the hour-long funeral came to an end, each casket was wheeled to the front doors of the church. After the cloths were removed, a priest sprinkled the caskets with holy water, before they exited the church. The ocean could be seen in the distance in between buildings on Ocean Avenue as the doors opened.

    No members of the Kologi family spoke at the funeral service. 

    Steven and Linda's surviving son, Steven Kologi Jr., held up a picture of his father as he walked down the aisle at the end of the service. Linda Kologi's oldest son, Jonathon Ruiz, held a picture of his mother. 

    Steven Kologi Jr., his grandfather, Adrian Kologi, and a family friend were able to escape the family's Wall Street home unharmed shortly before midnight on Dec. 31. A friend of the Kologi family, Mary Schulz, 70, was also gunned down inside the home. A funeral for Schulz was held Saturday at St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church in West Long Branch. 

    Steven and Linda's other son, a 16-year-old boy who authorities have never identified, is accused of shooting his parents and sister to death with a semi-automatic gun that was legally owned by another resident of the home, authorities said. The obituaries for his parents list the son's name as Scott Kologi.

    He was charged with four counts of murder and weapons offenses and remains in a youth detention facility in Middlesex County. 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $22,273.

    In this week's "On the market" property, we feature a home in Colts Neck with 7,600 square feet of living space.

    The home is listed for $1,289,000. According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $22,273.

    The home features six bedrooms, six full bathrooms and one partial bath.

    The median sale price for homes in the area is $649,950.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find on Facebook.

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