FREEHOLD – The Long Branch man who fatally shot four members of his own family with a high-powered rifle on New Year’s Eve in 2017 has been sentenced to 150 years in state prison for the crime, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday.
Scott Kologi, 20, was sentenced earlier today by Monmouth County Superior Court Criminal Division Presiding Judge Marc C. Lemieux. He must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence, or 127 ½ years, before becoming eligible for parole, under the terms of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act.
The case was initiated when members of the Long Branch Police Department and Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call reporting shots fired at 635 Wall Street at approximately 11:43 p.m. on Sunday, December 31, 2017. Upon arrival, they found the four victims, each having sustained gunshot wounds, at various locations inside the home: the defendant’s sister, 18-year-old Brittany Kologi; his mother, 44-year-old Linda Kologi; his father, 42-year-old Steven Kologi; and his grandfather’s companion, 70-year-old Mary Schulz of Ocean Township.
Scott Kologi was arrested at the scene, where the Century Arms C39v2 semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting was also recovered. An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Long Branch Police Department followed; Kologi, who was 16 at the time of the shootings, was subsequently waived up to Superior Court and indicted.
Following a two-week trial before Judge Lemieux and several hours of deliberation, a Monmouth County jury earlier this year convicted Kologi on all charges, including four counts of first-degree Murder and a second-degree weapons offense.
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During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, calling the evidence in the case “overwhelming” and the effect of the crime creating “immeasurable harm,” Judge Lemieux first denied a series of motions by the defense seeking a new trial and a reversal of the verdict. The proceedings then turned to the impact of the shooting, with several of Schulz’s relatives reading statements into the record – one noting that every mass shooting that occurs nationwide still to this day stirs up recollections of the “brutality and destruction” of what happened.
Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor and Trial Director Sean Brennan then argued for a sentence matching the severity of the crime.
“These were acts of evil, carried out by someone who knew exactly what he was doing,” Brennan said. “He killed them because he could. He killed them because he wanted to.”
Brennan pointed to the premeditated nature of the shooting – Kologi had gone so far as to research whether the weapon he used would be effective against responding police donning bulletproof vests – in arguing for a suitable term. He also described exactly how the crime was carried out, with Kologi luring his mother upstairs, shooting her to death from the cover of darkness in his room, and then fatally shooting his father when he rushed to see what was going on. Wearing earplugs to protect himself from the sound of the weapon, Kologi then slowly maneuvered around their bodies and walked downstairs before “casually” murdering Schulz and his sister, who was home on winter break following her first semester at college.
Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Caitlin J. Sidley, who tried the case with Brennan, noted that Kologi pulled the trigger of the rifle he used in the killings 14 times, with 12 shots hitting victims. Kologi’s brother and grandfather were also home at the time; each survived the attack.
“Even though they physically survived,” Brennan said, “they will still have to deal with the mental scars of what they saw.”
“Our deepest condolences remain with the victims’ family and friends, who continue to feel the impact of the loss of their loved ones and who will live with their grief in perpetuity,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said.
Kologi was represented by Richard Lomurro, Esq. and Emeka Nkwuo, Esq., of Freehold. Acting Prosecutor Linskey also recognized and thanked the numerous members of the Office’s legal, investigative, and victim-witness staffs who worked on the prosecution and trial, including the members of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and Long Branch and West Long Branch police departments who assisted.