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Paterson Community In Mourning After 18-Year-Old Honor Student Robert Cuadra Killed By Stray Bullet

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - A New Jersey community is mourning the death of an honor student who was caught in the crossfire of gun violence outside his family home.

CBS2's Leah Mishkin spoke to a family friend of 18-year-old Robert Cuadra who says she's devastated by the loss.

The honor student was helping with his grandmother with the groceries when he was shot and killed by a stray bullet Wednesday night in Paterson.

Maria Delgado watched Cuadra grow up. She's a childhood friend of his mother. They speak every day, but they haven't spoken since the 18-year-old died.

"I can't. It's so hard because I know that she's broken. That's why it's been hard to even..." Delgado said.

"Find the right words?" Mishkin said.

"Yes. I don't have them. It's really hard," Delgado said.

The Paterson Schools commissioner wrote "Robert was bringing groceries inside of his house when he was hit by a stray bullet. What a tragedy. My heart is heavy."

A sign with messages and prayers now stands on Godwin Avenue. That's where police found the honors student Wednesday. He died later that night.

"He was always a very helpful kid. He was bringing the groceries up because he was staying with his grandmother," Delgado said.

The mother of five says Cuadra was very close to his family and always helped to care for his younger siblings.

"He did not hang out. He was school, work, and home to his mother and grandmother. Real good kid, real good kid," Delgado said.

Paterson's superintendent of schools said the high school senior looked forward to going to Montclair State University in the fall on a full scholarship.

"I'm still in disbelief this happened. I understand the area he was in but it's really sad," Delgado said.

The principal of his high school, HARP Academy, said in a statement he had "a tremendously bright future," adding "everyone loved Robert. There are no words."

"It hurts. It's really sad because not only because I see him as family, but as a kid. Eighteen years old," Delgado said.

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh told Mishkin he's been in constant communication with the teenagers mother to comfort her.

"My other focus is to make sure that we bring the killer or killers to justice," Sayegh said.

Sayegh said they've made some progress in the ongoing investigation

Leah Mishkin contributed to this report. 

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