Jersey City memorial honors slain snow cone vendor killed 25 years ago

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JERSEY CITY -

As temperatures in New Jersey reach the upper-90s, many in Jersey City can’t help but be reminded of a beloved snow cone vendor who was killed 25 years ago.

A memorial sits at the corner of Newark and Jersey avenues in honor of William Mercado in a small plaza known as William Mercado Memorial Park.

Mercado was a beloved neighborhood figure who on sweltering days would often set up a cart serving flavored shaved ice known as piraguas. It was a treat from Puerto Rico, from here he moved with his family when he was 9 years old.

“He was a staple here. He did it since he was 12 years old. He built his own cart,” says Mercado’s brother George.

In 1994 Mercado - then just 25 years old - was shot six times in the head by George Lucia, a member of a North Bergen motorcycle club. Lucia had crashed his car into Mercado’s.

At trial, prosecutors hinted Mercado had made advances on Lucia's 18-year-old daughter, although she testified nothing unusual had happened between them. Lucia was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison.

Police later found in Mercado’s apartment detailed sales records and charts and plans to expand his ice business. He had his real estate license and was a notary republic.

Mercado’s mother still comes to the memorial park to tend to the flowers there. His brother George runs a flower shop nearby.

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