A 26-year-old mother was killed when gunmen opened fire in a small northern New Jersey town as she was walking with her husband and her 3-year-old son late Tuesday night, authorities said.
Bullets also wounded her husband, but the child remained safe.
Nazish Noorani and her husband Kashif Parvaiz, also 26, were on their way to a relative's house with one of their children around 11 p.m. when gunmen opened fire. The couple had recently moved from Brooklyn to Boston so that Parvaiz could attend graduate school at Harvard University. Their other child, 5, was with a relative when the shooting occurred, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Investigators are now saying the attack wasn't random, according to a report from the New York Daily News, meaning it doesn't seem the couple just get caught in crossfire.
The shooting "appears to be target-specific," Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said Wednesday. Bianchi offered little else, but investigators are still looking into whether this was a biased attack.
Local officials, however, are unsure at this time if bias was for sure a factor. "We've had Muslims in the community for over 50 years and very few problems with hate crimes," Boonton Police Chief Michael Beltran said.
The family is Muslim, and Noorani was wearing distinctively Pakistani clothing at the time of the shooting. The couple was heading to Boonton, NJ, a small town with a large Pakistani-American community.
The couple had an arranged marriage about six years ago. Noorani was from Karachi, Pakistan and her husband was born in Brooklyn.
Boonton residents are shocked. One man who lives close to where the incident happened said he heard six gunshots. That's very unusual for the small town, others said.
"Nothing really happens here," said Abbey Hettrich, a Boonton native. "It's such an innocent town. I don't think there has been a (violent) death here in a very long time."
Relatives said the hardest thing now is explaining the tragedy to the two children. The younger child, who was in the stroller at the time of the shooting, is having trouble understanding what happened, they said.
Paraviz, the husband, remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds, but is in a stable condition. Relatives said Pervaiz graduated with honors from Columbia University and was studying for his doctoral degree in architecture and engineering at Harvard.