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2 Young Women Killed In Newburgh Halloween Party Shooting

NEWBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Seven people were shot, and two of them were killed at a Halloween party in Orange County early Sunday morning.

The shooting happened at 12:43 a.m. inside the building at 119 Broadway in Newburgh, police said.

Witnesses said they heard a quarrel and then gunshots inside the second-floor studio, followed by people running for the exit.

"There was some dude, they were jumping somebody, I don't know his name," one party goer told CBS2's Dave Carlin. "Then another dude came out with a gun, they turned off the lights, started shooting everywhere."

CBS2's Ali Bauman reported two people were killed, including Omani Free, 18, whose father said was in her senior year of high school.

Omani Free
Omani Free, 18, was killed in a shooting at a Halloween party in Newburgh on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. (via Facebook)

"She was just at a party, and the next thing I find out, I get a phone call saying my daughter got shot in the head," said Omar Free, Omani Free's father. "I'm devastated right now. It's hard. She's my oldest daughter."

The other victim who was killed was identified as Tabitha Cruz, 20.

Tabitha Cruz
Tabitha Cruz was killed in a shooting at a Halloween party in Newburgh on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. (Credit: Tabitha Cruz)

Her father, Miguel Cruz, told CBS2 that his eldest child happily coached young cheerleaders and wanted to become a veterinarian.

"She was bighearted, everybody knew her, everybody loved her," he said.

As 1010 WINS' Roger Stern reported, Rameek Anderson, 19, was tearful as he placed a candle in front of the building where Cruz, his teenage cousin, was killed.

"Thank God I didn't go to the party. I was thanking God. But I was thanking God my family was in the hospital, at least like getting help or something, but they told me they passed away before she even got to the hospital," Anderson said.

Anderson told WCBS 880's John Metaxas what a wonderful person his cousin was. He was also a cousin to victim Free.

"Tabitha was actually a person that you could go to and talk to. Even if you were having a bad day you could go to her. She could cheer you up," Anderson said, "and Omani, it was the same thing for her. They both helped out the community."

Residents said there are parties on a monthly basis in the upstairs of the building, and this party drew a particularly large crowd – with cars parked hours ahead of time and people in their costumes waiting to get inside.

The building had only one door leading in and out, CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported.

Police said the suspect fled the scene right after the shooting.

Five other people were also recovering from gunshot wounds following the shooting. Family members of some of the partygoers gathered at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh afterward.

Friends and family are planning a march and rally to stop the violence for Monday.

Shocked and saddened residents expressed their outrage Sunday night.

"Who do you think you are? Breaking hearts and families up, and that's supposed to be OK?" one man yelled.

Newburgh police were investigating the shooting Sunday afternoon along with New York State Police and the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

A police source told CBS2 investigators questioned a person of interested, but that man is not being called a suspect.

Anyone with information was asked to call Newburgh police at (845) 561-3131.


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