How is it possible?

Dustin J. Friedland (Facebook)

Many friends of Dustin Friedland back in his old hometown of Toms River keep asking the question as they ponder his senseless gunshot death in a shopping mall parking garage Sunday night.

Friedland, 30, was a 2002 graduate of Toms River High School North whose life was blossoming: a young attorney with a solid career in a Neptune firm, a wife, and a place to call home in a tony section of Hoboken, with the lights of Manhattan close enough to touch.

That all came crashing down as he exited the Mall at Short Hills with his wife after a shopping excursion. Police say two suspects left him with a fatal bullet in the head and sped off in their late-model SUV, which was found later in Newark.

According to Ben Giovine, a contemporary who now heads the Toms River Board of Education, Friedland had the kind of charisma that spoke of going places, even among his peers in school and in Boy Scouting.

"He was always a go-getter, and just had a great zest about him," Giovine recalled. "He just could always light up a room. He had a great, great way about him."

In addition to a memorable character suddenly gone, there's the shock of a life taken just as it was beginning to bloom.

"I think it's hard for anyone at any age," Giovine mused, conceding an early moment of disbelief before the facts began to surface and confirm his suspicions.

"But when you have someone who was just getting started with their life...it makes anyone of any age try to come to terms with what occurred. It leaves me speechless, and I'm sure it's left everyone else speechless. It's something that should never happen."

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