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Man accused of selling gun in New Milford shooting death brought to court

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

ONLY ON CVP: An Essex County ex-con charged with selling a .9mm handgun used in the shooting death of a New Milford man was brought to court today.

Nicholas Questal, 23, is charged with a pair of illegal weapons counts — one for being a felon and the other for having the gun without a permit — in connection with what authorities called the “reckless accidental” killing of 22-year-old Alex Bridge behind the Brookchester Apartment Complex in New Milford.

A national of Trinidad and Tobago who works construction in New York City, Questal already has a federal drug conviction on his record. He remains free on $75,000 bail, posted the day after his Aug. 6 arrest last summer.

Nicholas Questal (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

Authorities said Questal sold the gun to Aaron McMorris of Hackensack, 23, who then either gave or sold it to 21-year-old Byron Sankar of East Orange, the man charged with pulling the trigger while showing it off just before 1 a.m. Aug. 3.

Bridge was partying with Sankar, Sankar’s wife and McMorris outside the rear of the apartment complex when Sankar pulled out the handgun to show the others, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said the next morning.

Sankar “handled the weapon in such a reckless manner that it discharged, striking the victim in the abdomen and resulting in his death,” the prosecutor said.

Everyone ran, although McMorris called police, returned to the scene and waited for them, he said.

Bridge, who lived on Monmouth Avenue and worked at Norstrom, was taken to Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck after being struck once in the abdomen with the high-caliber bullet, law enforcement sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT moments after the his body was found in the parking lot of the nearby New Milford Estates housing complex on Reichelt Road.

He died at the hospital, they said. The gun was never recovered.

Sankar remained held today on $450,000 bail, down from an original $1 million, on charges of first-degree aggravated manslaughter and illegal handgun possession.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Nicholas Ostuni didn’t offer a plea deal to Questal’s attorney but, instead, asked Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi to allow time for Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer to make the offer.

Defense lawyer, John P. Pieroni requested additional time to examine “voluminous” discovery, “most of it pertaining to Byron Sankar.”

All three defendants will be back before DeAvila-Silebi July 7.

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