A Paterson man pleaded guilty Tuesday to recklessly firing a gun as a melee erupted in a local nightclub, killing a 27-year-old city resident who happened to be in the line of fire.
Jorge Santiago, 29, faces 15 years in state prison after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter before state Superior Court Judge Greta Gooden Brown in Paterson. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 4. Santiago’s guilty plea came just as jury selection was about to begin for his trial.
The defendant told Judge Gooden Brown that he went for his birthday celebration to Alex’s Playground bar on 21st Avenue in the early morning hours of April 19, 2009. He admitted to bringing a gun. While there, he said, a melee occurred and he fired the gun twice – once randomly into the crowd and once toward the ceiling. He said that while he did not intend to hurt or kill anyone, his reckless behavior caused the death of victim Ulisis Tangarife.
Tangerife suffered a fatal stomach wound and was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Regional medical Center several hours after being hit. It was the city’s first homicide of 2009.
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