2006-06-29 / Front Page
Community shaken over shooting death
Boy, 12, is killed by gunshot while playing at friend's
BY VINCENT TODARO
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office confirmed that Alexander Khoudiakov was killed by a single gunshot shortly after 6 p.m. Monday. The bullet was fired from a .38-caliber revolver.
The victim had been playing with other juveniles in the bedroom of a Cypress Lane townhouse, part of the Kingswood Station condominiums, at the time of his death. No one has been charged in the case.
Authorities released very few details about the incident, leaving questions unanswered about who fired the gun and why, saying only that the matter remains under investigation by the prosecutor's office and the East Brunswick police. No information was available on the gun, who owned it or how the children had access to it.
Friends of Alexander suggested Tuesday that the boys may have been fighting over the gun when it went off.
Alexander, who also lived in Kingswood Station - a development between Old Stage and Cranbury roads near the Middlesex County Fairgrounds - was getting ready to enter seventh grade at Hammarskjold Middle School this fall. He lived with his mother, Irina, and his older brother, Max.
Vicky and two of her friends, Rebecca Tefera, 13, and Katie Todoroff, 14, were outside the condo complex Tuesday, raising money to help the family pay for the funeral and other expenses.
The girls had with them the Schwinn bicycle that they said Alexander used to ride over to his friend's house for dinner. The girls had recovered the bicycle, as well as a basketball that they said also belonged to Alexander.
Alexander had gone to his 11-year-old friend's home, which is owned by the friend's grandmother, Josephine Guerriero. The 11-year-old's father also resides there. Police could still be seen conducting the investigation at the residence on Tuesday.
Vicky and Rebecca, who said she had hung out with Alexander and was close friends with Max, said that a trust fund was opened to help Alexander's family. As of Tuesday evening, the girls had raised about $250 to help with expenses. The fundraiser was initiated by the girls, and is separate from another one started by Frost Elementary School, which Alexander previously attended.
Friends and neighbors said Alexander's family had moved to East Brunswick from Sayreville, and that Alexander's father had died in recent years.
"He was a really nice kid," Vicky said of Alexander. "He was really sociable and had a lot of friends. I never heard anything bad about him."
She and her friends all wore shirts Tuesday asking people to help Alexander's family. The shirts also featured pictures of Alex.
Vicky said her family had sort of "adopted" Max in order to help the family out financially.
Neighbors expressed shock that such a tragedy would occur so close to home.
"It's very, very shocking," said Vasu Nayak, who lives in the neighborhood with his wife and children. "We never had this kind of thing happen in this neighborhood. I consider it safe, and always let my kids play openly."
Nayak said he had seen Alexander playing in the past on the nearby basketball courts.
He also wondered how children could have access to a loaded gun and described it as "totally irresponsible," adding that the person responsible should be held accountable.
Alexander's friends said they received phone calls from "shocked" schoolmates who wondered what may have happened.
Local officials expressed sympathies for the families and friends of the boys involved.
East Brunswick Councilman David Stahl called the child's death a "tragic event."
"It's hard to even talk about what happened last night," he said Tuesday. "Obviously I grieve for the family."
Council President Nancy Pinkin said she views it as a tragic situation for both families, that of the victim and the child who may have fired the gun.
She also said the gun issue needs to be further addressed. Pinkin, who was part of the Million Mom March on Washington, D.C., has already asked local police to work with her on gun safety to help prevent future tragedies.