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Hazlet Mother Critical After Being Shot Outside Red Oak Diner

Waitress coming off shift shot by a man she knew, say police

A Hazlet mother is in critical condition at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune after being shot outside the Red Oak Diner & Lounge on Route 35 in Hazlet, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. 

Kelly Cullari, 35, of Hazlet was shot at 4:45 a.m. Sunday morning, said Executive Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Richard E. Incremona Monday afternoon.

The alleged shooter, a former boyfriend, is Jermaine Foster, 33, of Plainfield, said the police.

Hazlet Police were called to the scene within minutes, Incremona said. Foster fled the scene but was later apprehended in Linden. Police have recovered a handgun, said the investigator, but he would not elaborate more. 

Foster was charged with attempted murder, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and cocaine possession. He is being held at Monmouth County Jail. 

Foster appeared before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English Monday afternoon. His bail is set at $1 million, with no ten percent option, and is not permitted contact with the victim.  

Back at the Red Oak Diner, co-owner Dan Kalyna said employees and regular customers are shocked and concerned for Kelly, a fixture at the family-friendly diner for the past five years.

"We definitely plan on having a drive for her and her kids," he said. "One hundred percent, we're going to support her." 

Kalyna said the diner closes to customers at 3 a.m., but workers stay after to clean up and close out. 

Kalyna said the gregarious waitress worked the front counter six or seven days a week to support her two children, welcoming evening visitors with coffee, dinner, and drinks from the bar. "She's always here, always hustling, always on the counter. She's the first one you see when you come in,"  he said.

The owner said at least fifty people have visited Kelly in the hospital in the past 24 hours, many of them restaurant workers and some her regular customers, to offer encouragement as she undergoes surgeries."I told them, 'let her breathe!'," he said, with a chuckle.  

He said as soon as she is better, she'll be welcomed back. "She's a survivor," he said. 

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