LONG BRANCH — A community will remember three family members and a friend gunned down inside their home on New Year's Eve, as the teen accused of killing them makes his first court appearance.

Shooting Tragedy in Long Branch
(Bud McCormick)

Steven Kologi, 44, his wife, Linda Kologi, 43, daughter Brittany, 18, and family friend Mary Schulz, 70, were shot and killed by a 16-year-old son and brother firing a semi-automatic rifle on Sunday night as the year 2017 came to a close, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

The teen, who was not identified by Gramiccioni because of his age, was in custody at Middlesex County Juvenile Detention Center and charged with four counts of first-degree murder. He will make a court appearance on Tuesday and will be charged as an adult.

Steven Kologi Jr., the brother who Gramiccioni said made it out of the house on Wall Street with his grandfather as the shots were fired, posted a message on his private Instagram account, according to the Daily Mail.

"I just wish I could tell all of them how much they meant to me and how much I truly loved each and every one of them because I didn't do that enough," Steven Jr. wrote in the hours after the shooting. He called his parents the "greatest parents," who made Christmas special despite financial struggles. He urged everyone "to give the ones you love an extra kiss or I love you."

Despite the bitter cold, a candlelight vigil is scheduled for Franklin Lake Park in West Long Branch Tuesday at 6 p.m., according to a message on Twitter from the Long Branch High School Alumni.

"Waking up to this news has many childhood friends in shock. Steve was a great person in his youth as well as adulthood. Many of us grew apart, but we all share a bond that has left many of us feeling devastated," Townsquare Media's Jasmine Rodriguez said of Steve Kologi's death. She attended Long Branch High School with Kologi in the early 1990s.

Kenneth Shelton, a former Long Branch resident who now lives in Independence, Mo., has been friends with Steve since he was about 8 years old and remembered the first time they met.

"I was riding my bicycle in the side yard of my house pretending I was a Jedi with my toy light saber. Steve kept riding his bike down the sidewalk back and forth wondering what the heck I was doing. At some point I called out to him and he stopped and we started talking and became friends," Shelton recalled.

Childhood friend Brian Duncan said Steve was "a great athlete and a even better person that was good to any and everybody."

Scott Dilley had many memories of his friend but just couldn't put the words together. "I could write a book about all of our memories. I'm gonna write something soon, just can't do it till I wake up from this nightmare."

Dave Farmer of Long Branch wrote on his Facebook page that nothing makes sense following his friend's death.

"Life happens and when tragedy occurs, a faithful man says it's God's will. For this to happen to this man and his family just simply can't be explained. I've known Steve 'Kujo' Kologi for decades and I can say this, I've never had an argument or disagreement since I've known him. He was a brother and softball brother in arms. Had your back NO MATTER WHAT!!! I played first base and he played 3rd (the hot corner) and pitched. He made playing the game easy and fun as all hell! I have a heavy heart and soul this morning. But, I'm proud to say publicly that I knew and loved this man unconditionally and always told him when we parted, 'I love you brotha!!!' Prayers and condolences to his family and to my NIT Family, let's embrace and love each other as we always have! This one cuts and hits deeply!! Rest Easy Kellog!!!"

Jasmine Rodriguez contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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