PLAINFIELD — Dawud Hicks, a 2011 Plainfield High School graduate and one of the best wrestlers in the school’s history, was fatally shot Tuesday night.
Hicks, 21, was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he was pronounced dead at 9:30 p.m., according to Grace H. Park, Acting Union County Prosecutor.
The Union County Homicide Task Force and Plainfield Police Division are jointly investigating the shooting, which occurred in the 300 block of Manson Place in the city’s West End at about 9 p.m.
The investigation determined that shots were fired in the area of Monroe Avenue and West Third Street moments before Hicks was shot outside a Manson Place residence, according to Park.
The homicide is the eighth in the city this year.
The City Council honored Hicks, who also played running back and linebacker on the high school football team, with a special resolution for his athletic achievements two years ago.
“It’s tragic and it just breaks my heart to see this happen,” said Bill Nyers, Hicks’ football coach at Plainfield during the 2010 season. “It was my honor to coach him. It just makes you angry and sad at the same time.
“He was outstanding on the field. He just had natural ability. As a linebacker, he had a nose for the ball.
“He was respectful and a pleasure to coach. My heart goes out to the family.”
News of Hicks’ death was met with shock and sadness from the scholastic wrestling community statewide and at Iowa Central Community College, where Hicks competed during the 2012-13 season.
Several of Hicks’ former high school competitors, who learned of his death, took to Twitter to extend their condolences.
Hicks placed fifth in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Individual Wrestling Championships as a senior and sixth as a junior. He compiled an 80-6 record over his final two seasons.
Hicks went on to wrestle at Iowa Central, a national junior college powerhouse, where he compiled a 7-4 record at 174 pounds during the 2012-13 season. Hicks left the school for personal reasons, according to Iowa Central head coach Luke Moffitt, whose roster that year featured seven New Jersey grapplers.
Less than 30 minutes after Hicks arrived on campus, according to Moffitt, he sought out Iowa Central’s reigning 174-pound national champion, Jahwon Akui, and told him, “I’m going to take your spot this year. You were the man last year, but I’m going to be the man this year.”
Moffitt said the two had “some good battles in the (wrestling) room” and that Hicks, who exuded confidence without being arrogant, “had a lot of potential as a wrestler.”
“I wish we could have kept him out here,” Moffitt said. “He was quiet at times but just fun to have around. He could kind of pick guys up when they needed someone to lift their spirits.”
Hicks entered the 2010 NJSIAA Tournament with a 37-0 record, the longest winning streak in the school’s history, shattering the previous mark Billy “Buck” Danner set in 1976-77.
During the 2010 season, Hicks became the first wrestler from Plainfield in 41 years and ninth overall to qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament.
Hicks, who began wrestling at age 9, never realized his goal of becoming the school’s first state champion since Ed Bailey won a 130-pound title in 1969.
Hicks’ high school coach, Greg Powell, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The investigation remains active, and anyone with information is being urged to contact Union County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Willie Faulks at 908-418-2817.
A reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in connection with the death of Hicks is being offered by the Union County Crime Stoppers; tips can be given anonymously by phone at 908-654-TIPS (8477), via text message by texting “UCTIP” and a message to 274637 (CRIMES), or online at www.uctip.org.