Police may have found the smoking gun — literally — that could ensure convictions for six suspects in the gruesome, execution-style murders of three college-bound New Jersey youths.
The gun, a .357-caliber revolver, was recovered from the Long Island, N.Y., house of a reputed MS-13 gang member, and it may have been used in several other killings, authorities said Thursday.
They said ballistics data was used to link the gun to the August slayings at a Newark, N.J., schoolyard. The weapon was seized March 24 from the home of Alvaro DelGado, also known as "Lobo," as part of an ongoing weapons crackdown on Long Island, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
Spota said the gun's serial number was defaced but that investigators were able to retrieve it. A sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun also was recovered in DelGado's home, according to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Spota's office.
Spota said that during the undercover investigation that led to the seizure, DelGado indicated that the gun "has 10 bodies on it."
Law enforcement authorities from at least two other jurisdictions outside New York State have expressed interest in examining the gun for possible crimes in their areas, including one double homicide, Spota said. He did not identify those jurisdictions.
Killed in the Newark attack were Terrance Aeriel, 18; Dashon Harvey, 20, and Iofemi Hightower, 20, all of whom were shot in the head after being ordered to kneel in front of a wall, authorities said.
Aeriel's sister, Natasha, was shot in the head but survived and helped police identify at least one of the suspects. Police have said she is currently in a witness protection program.
Some of the six suspects in the Newark schoolyard slayings were thought to have ties to the El Salvador-connected MS-13 street gang, though local authorities have downplayed those allegations.
MS-13, which stands for Mara Salvatrucha, originated in Los Angeles among immigrants from El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s and has since spread to parts of the United States and Central America, where it is involved in human trafficking, kidnapping and drugs and weapons smuggling, according to federal authorities.
DelGado, 25, faces two counts of criminal weapons possession and one count of criminal sale of a firearm. He was being held in lieu of $200,000 cash bail.
All six suspects in the Newark killings — three adults and three juveniles — were arrested within two weeks of the killings and pleaded not guilty. They are awaiting trial.
At the time of killings, Aeriels and Harvey were students at Delaware State University, while Hightower was in the process of enrolling there for the fall semester.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.