Death was ‘self-inflicted,’ police say

BELLEVILLE – 

The lifeless body of a Belleville man was found outside his house on Hill St. in the early morning last Monday, police said.

Police said they responded to the residence in the 50 block of Hill St. at 12:42 p.m. after a neighbor who’d been snowblowing the victim’s driveway came across the victim slumped over in a chair in his backyard.

Preliminary investigation has led police to the conclusion that death was due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Belleville Police Capt. Dan Ward.

A rifle, from which one round had been fired, was recovered from the scene, Ward said.

The man’s body was removed to the county medical examiner’s office for an autopsy, Ward said. The official cause of death has not yet been disclosed, he added.

Police declined to release the man’s identity pending notification of next of kin, Ward said.

Ward said the man was 51 and lived alone. No note was found with the body, he said.

Ward said that the neighbor told officers that he’d heard no shot fired and that it was possible that the shooting may have occurred some time previously.

This incident was the latest in a string of tragic deaths in the region:

On Jan. 14, Nutley PD found the bodies of Christopher Minichini, 38, and his girlfriend Christina Prestianni, 37, in Minichini’s Hillside Ave. house in Nutley, both dead of gunshot wounds. Police labeled the incident as a murder-suicide, having determined that Minichini, a state corrections officer, killed Prestianni and then himself. No motive was given.

And on Oct. 17, 2014, in Belleville, police concluded they’d uncovered another murder-suicide with the discovery of John Sykes, 42, and Felicia Hunt, 23, both dead of gunshot wounds, in a New St. home. No further details were released by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Observer Staff