The father of the Union City infant who was killed in a highly publicized four-alarm fire earlier this month is one of two men being charged with starting the blaze, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Eddie Gonzalez Sr., 26, and Edwin Diaz, 20, both of Union City, have been charged with one count of causing widespread damage, a third degree crime, and one count of creating a risk of widespread injury or damage, a fourth degree crime, Suarez said in a statement.
If convicted of a third degree crime, the defendants face up to five years in state prison.
Under the current Criminal Justice Reform rules, summons complaints have been issued for
Gonzalez and Diaz and they are scheduled to appear in Central Judicial Processing Court on April 6.
The preliminary investigation into the origin and cause of the Union City fire that resulted in the death of Eddie Gonzalez Jr., has revealed that the origin of the fire was the rear room in Apt. 2L, 1404 Summit Ave. and the cause of the fire was incendiary, authorities said.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said he could not comment further on the origin of the fire since it is a pending investigation.
The investigation is being conducted jointly by the Union City Police Department, the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor, the NJ State Fire Marshal and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The investigation into the death of one-year-old Eddie Gonzalez Jr. is continuing.
On Saturday, March 4, 2017, at approximately 1 a.m., the Union City Police Department received a 911 call reporting a fire on Summit Avenue in Union City, officials said.
Police responding to the fire found that it had fully engulfed the building and that all occupants of 1404 Summit Avenue were accounted for, except one-year-old Eddie Gonzalez Jr, authorities said.
Eddie Gonzalez Jr. lived at 1404 Summit Avenue with his parents, Eddie Gonzalez Sr. and Aaliyah Mercado, as well as a five-month-old sibling.
Mercado and the five-month-old sibling escaped the fire unharmed by using the fire escape. The responding police officers located Eddie Gonzalez Sr. at the top of the fire escape, officials said.
Gonzalez was initially transported to Jersey City Medical Center with burns and heavy smoke inhalation, before being transferred to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, authorities said.
Officers then made entry into 1404 Summit Ave., but had to exit due to heavy smoke and fire within the apartment building. As the fire fully involved the building, it spread to the north side exposure causing heavy fire damage to 1406 Summit Avenue.
Due to high winds, the fire spread to other buildings including Saints Joseph and Michael Church, located at 1413 Central Avenue, where it caused significant structural damage.
In total, there were eight residential buildings and 20 apartments damaged by the fire and more than 80 residents were effected or displaced because of the fire, according to officials.
After the fire was placed under control at 1404 Summit Ave., investigators entered the building where they found the body of Eddie Gonzalez Jr. in Apartment 2L in a lifeless condition.
“The investigation into the Eddie’s death is far from over,” Suarez added. “Our continuing investigation will now focus on trying to ascertain the events which led to his death.”