A South Jersey man has been charged in connection with a shooting at a birthday party that killed two people and injured 12 as several hundred people gathered Saturday night at a home in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County, authorities said Monday.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, speaking at a news conference outside the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, called the shooting “horrendous and horrific.”
“This was a birthday party,” he said. “A birthday party is supposed to be a joyous event, not a target for those hell-bent on inflicting harm on a community.”
The shooting occurred just before midnight Saturday at a home in Fairfield Township, a rural community outside of Bridgeton.
Kevin Dawkins, 36, of East Commerce Street in Bridgeton, was arrested Sunday on weapons charges, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said. She declined to say if he was a suspected shooter, citing the ongoing investigation. He is in custody at the Cumberland County jail.
An attorney in the Cumberland County public defender’s office, which is representing Dawkins, could not be reached for comment Monday.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal identified those who died as Kevin Elliott, 30, and Asia Hester, 25, both of Bridgeton. The remaining victims ranged in age from 19 to 35 years old, authorities said, and some were in serious condition.
“This was not a random act of violence,” Grewal said. “This was a targeted attack.” The investigation remains “active and ongoing,” he said, adding that multiple firearms and shell casings were recovered from the scene.
Grewal said more arrests were expected. Authorities declined to provide a motive for the shooting.
“Fourteen lives were changed forever,” Webb-McRae said. Several of the victims, she said, were in “dire condition.”
Col. Patrick Callahan, the acting superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said troopers responded to the shooting at a residence on the block of East Commerce Street shortly after p.m.
» READ MORE: 2 dead, 12 injured in shooting at South Jersey house party
Many who attended the party had already left the scene when first responders arrived, he said.
He said some of the revelers had earlier that night attended a party on the unit block of King Drive in Fairfield, where state troopers had responded to complaints of noise. That gathering broke up about 11 p.m., he said.
Authorities declined to say if the person living at the home where the shooting occurred was the person celebrating a birthday.
Callahan said witnesses were still being interviewed and search warrants executed.
What happened in Fairfield, Murphy said, “is a microcosm of the scale of gun violence we see elsewhere in other communities and our state and across the country. We are at the point where this kind of horrific scene is almost part of our daily lives. It has become commonplace.
“If there is one thing we can never normalize, it is senseless gun violence,” he said.
No one answered the door Monday afternoon at the two-story home with yellow siding where the shooting occurred on a busy, two-way stretch of East Commerce Street. The front lawn showed remnants of a party, with balloons still tied to a gazebo, picnic tables still out, and a white tent that had been dismantled.
At Hester’s home a few blocks away, a relative declined to comment. No one answered the door at an address listed for Elliott.
Authorities ask anyone with information to contact the New Jersey State Police Bridgeton Station at or the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office website at www.njccpo.org/tips.
I cover crime and courts, with a focus on Philadelphia and South Jersey.
CBS3 Mysteries: Mother Calls For Justice After Aaliyah Eubanks Found Tied, Shot To Death Inside Bridgeton Apartment
BRIDGETON, N.J. (CBS) — A South Jersey mother is calling for justice. Her daughter was brutally murdered in her own home this past March.
Several months later, there are still no arrests.READ MORE: DA Larry Krasner Partners With 4 Organizations On New Initiative To Fight Gun Violence In West/Southwest Philadelphia
CBS3 Mysteries has covered some of the area’s most notorious unsolved cases. This week, we focus our attention on a brutal homicide that has until this moment received very little notice.
Nearly a full calendar’s worth of seasons have passed since Aaliyah Eubanks was murdered in her Bridgeton apartment.
On a summer afternoon, family and friends visited her grave, adding some scarecrows and fall flowers.
The deadly shooting happened on March Jennifer Williams says her daughter, a single mother, had just returned home from work.
“March turned my world upside down. As a mother, as a parent, I was bringing my daughter home from doing a hour shift at a nursing home. She was taking care of other people’s mothers and fathers and grandparents. Sixteen hours. I take her home and less than three hours later I get a call saying my daughter was murdered in her bed. That they came in, snatched her out of her bed and murdered her,” Williams said.
Williams says video surveillance shows three men fumbling at the back door of her daughter’s Bridgeton apartment.
She says they appeared to be familiar with the area and looked comfortable.READ MORE: Man Fighting For Life After Being Shot 16 Times In North Philadelphia Double Shooting, Police Say
“Liyah” was found tied up and had been shot six times. The motive is shrouded in mystery.
“This isn’t somebody who was playing with guns. She wasn’t a gangster, she wasn’t a threat to nobody. She had no assets, she had no money. She lived in low income,” Williams said.
Recently, Cumberland County prosecutors say they recovered what they believe to be the murder weapon.
They tell CBS3 Mysteries the development brings them a step closer to charging those responsible for Liyah’s murder.
They declined to speak with us about the case on camera.
For this mom, she isn’t giving up hope those responsible will be found and held accountable.
“We are small, we know each other. I may not know you personally but you know Aaliyah. Speak up, you don’t have to put your name or nothing. It’s easy to give a little tip. We know what these killers are, somebody knows,” Williams said.MORE NEWS: WATCH: Zach Ertz Records Longest Touchdown Catch Of Career, Makes NFL History In 1st Game With Cardinals
If you have any information on this case please call the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office at
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2 dead, 12 injured after mass shooting at house party near Bridgeton, New Jersey
New Jersey State Police said a year-old man and a year-old woman died in the shooting. Police have not released the victims' name. Family members, however, identified the year-old victim as Asia Hester.
One of the 12 people who were injured is in critical condition. All of the victims were adults, according to investigators.
Six of the victims were rushed to Cooper University Hospital Sunday morning. Hospital officials told Action News that two victims were released while four others remain hospitalized for more serious injuries.
No arrests have been made. State police said the motive remains under investigation.
Officers were called to a home on E. Commerce Street in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County around p.m. Saturday.
More than people were at the home for a party at the time, officials said.
Residents said the trouble started when people from a neighboring party showed up to the home. That's when rapid gunfire rang out, they said.
Neighbors said they heard popping noises that sounded like fireworks
"We started seeing cops flying down the road, state troopers coming down this way, helicopters in the air and I'm like, 'This is nuts, man,'" recalled Joeron Pierce, who lives nearby.
Chopper video showed the aftermath on Sunday morning. A tent that appeared to have been knocked over was on the ground. Debris was scattered around the yard.
Cars were parked all along the street, and police said some were parked blocks away.
Police began searching a large area around the home, including nearby woods and a cemetery.
The uncle of one of the victims was at the scene. He said his niece was a "good girl" and he was "absolutely heartbroken."
MASS SHOOTING in Fairfield Twp, Cumberland County. Police say someone started shooting at a house party with hundreds of people in attendance. Multiple people shot, some did not make it. @6abcpic.twitter.com/lR9qFVSfZB— Beccah Hendrickson (@Beccah6abc) May 23,
Police said some of the wounded victims were taken to the hospital by medics, while others drove themselves.
John Fuqua, of the Life Worth Living organization, said his nephew's friend was among those who were shot.
"He was running for his life. He got on the ground, he had to crawl," Fuqua said. "It wasn't a shooting gallery, it wasn't a hunting expedition, it was a party and a few bad apples chose to turn it into something else."
Rev. Michael Keene of the Trinity AME Church heard the gunfire. The church which sits right across the street from the shooting scene.
"I just started hearing at first what I thought was fireworks, it was really gunshots, and I heard nine in rapid succession," said Rev. Keene.
Community leaders said the gathering was a 90s-themed birthday party and was attended mostly by young people.
"We have a lot of challenges in this community and we've had a lot of tragedies," said Melissa Helmbrecht of the HopeLoft Community Center.
Helmbrecht said the partygoers were excited about the warm weather and opportunity to get together.
"I'm just worried for our friends, our family, our employees. Over the coming days we're going to have a lot of pieces to put back together," she said.
"If you're going to a party, why do you need to take a gun?" asked Keene. "If you're there to have a good time ,why do you need a gun with you? That means you're expecting trouble to me."
Fuqua said it will take the efforts of the entire community to help.
"This ain't a sit back on the sideline and watch activity, this is about boots on the ground. You've got to get on the floor, you've got to get your knees a little bit dirty if we want to clean up our community," Fuqua said.
Community leaders decided to proceed with their scheduled youth basketball game Sunday afternoon, seeing it as an outlet after what happened.
"It looks like it's the best thing to do so that these young people can burn off some steam, get their frustration out. We have grief counselors here, so we can get through this. It's not going to be easy but we're going to get through this," said Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly.
Fairfield Township Mayor Benjamin Byrd Sr., who was at the scene Sunday, said that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy offered his support and help.
"Nobody knows when someone's going to come out of the woods with a gun," Byrd said. He did not have any details about the shooting.
In a statement released Sunday, Gov. Murphy expressed gratitude for the efforts of law enforcement and first responders while condemning the violence.
"Let there be no mistake: This despicable and cowardly act of gun violence only steels our commitment to ensuring New Jersey leads the nation in passing and enforcing strong and commonsense gun safety laws," Murphy said. "No community should ever experience what occurred last night in Fairfield."
Gov. Murphy, State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan and Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae are scheduled to provide an update on the mass shooting Monday morning.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bridgeton Police Department
As the communities' chief law enforcement agency, the Bridgeton Police Department is dedicated to the equitable and impartial enforcement of the laws, statutes, and ordinances, enacted to protect life and property, while also preserving and maintaining the public peace. In carrying out their mission to protect and serve, the Bridgeton Police do so respecting constitutional rights, human dignity and community values.
The Bridgeton Police Department is committed to the enhancement of community-police partnerships; focused on assisting members of the community in identifying and resolving problems in an effort to improve quality of life community-wide. Collectively and individually, the department is committed to providing the highest quality law enforcement service possible, while continuously striving to maintain the highest standards of their profession.
The Bridgeton Police Department consists of sixty-five (65) full-time officers, five (5) Class II officers, one (1) animal control officer, seven (7) telecommunications officers and a civilian staff of five (5). The department is comprised of various bureaus including Patrol, Criminal Investigation, Professional Standards and Administrative. Lts. Michael and Thomas Speranza command the department's Patrol Bureau; Lt. Rick Pierce, the Criminal Investigations Bureau and Lt. Paul Genovese, the Administrative Bureau. Capt. James Battavio is the department's Executive Officer in command of all bureaus, second-in-command under Chief of Police Michael A. Gaimari Sr.
The Bridgeton Police Department welcomes the opportunity to interact with the community as part of its "Building Community Partnerships" initiative. Whether it is a question, tip, concern, compliment or complaint, the department wants to give our residents the opportunity to be heard. Please click "HERE" to share your comments so that the appropriate response can be formulated. Feel free to leave "HERE" your contact information, but it is NOT required.
- If you wish to send a tip to the Bridgeton Police, you can do so via email "HERE" or by the telephone tip-line at ()
- Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can use the TIP text service to report information or a crime to the Bridgeton Police by texting "Bridgeton" plus your tip to
- If you use the TIP text line, no one can find out your identity, as no records are maintained by the mid-west company that operates the service and New Jersey Courts have no authority in other states
If you have an Emergency, please call
News today nj bridgeton
Weapon found in Union Lake linked to Bridgeton woman's murder, police say
BRIDGETON - A gun pulled from a lake has been linked to a woman's murder, police say.
Preliminary ballistics testing indicates a pistol pulled from Union Lake is connected to the March murder of Aaliyah Eubanks in Bridgeton, authorities disclosed Monday.
The gun, an Intretec Tec-9 semi-automatic pistol, was found during a search of an area of the Millville lake by divers and Bridgeton police detectives.
The discovery came as investigators follow recent leads in the murder case, Bridgeton police said Monday.
Eubanks, 19, was found fatally shot in the Burlington Manor apartment complex shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday, according to Bridgeton police.
Police in March said an investigation focused on three suspects who entered the woman's home shortly before the shooting.
Jim Walsh covers public safety, economic development and other beats for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal.
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Fourteen Defendants Indicted In Connection With Shooting Of New Jersey State Trooper Last Year In Pittsgrove
TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that 14 defendants were indicted today by a state grand jury in connection with the shooting of a New Jersey State Trooper last year in Pittsgrove.
Najzeir “Naz” Hutchings 22, Kareen “Kai” Warner, 20, and Tremaine Hadden, 28, all of Bridgeton, N.J., were each indicted today on charges including, among others, Attempted Murder (1st Degree) and Aggravated Assault (2nd Degree). Eleven other defendants were indicted on various charges.
The indictment stems from an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and New Jersey State Police into the shooting of State Police Detective Richard Hershey. It is alleged that the defendants were part of a five-car caravan that went to the Harding Woods mobile home park in Pittsgrove, Salem County, on the evening of Saturday, April 25, , intending to attack and injure a resident there and damage her home. Members of the caravan were armed with at least two handguns, one knife, and one bottle, and Hutchings, Warner, and Hadden allegedly fired upon Detective Hershey. Detective Hershey was struck by one bullet during this encounter.
Detective Hershey discharged his weapon during the incident, and his use of force is the subject of a separate investigation under Directive , the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” issued by Attorney General Grewal in
“Detective Hershey was courageously responding to a dangerous situation in the midst of the COVID pandemic when he was shot in an ambush,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I promised at the outset of this investigation to bring all of those responsible to justice. As I said at the time, we won’t tolerate mob violence and we certainly won’t tolerate an attempt to murder a police officer.”
“This indictment is an important step in our efforts to hold all responsible who took part in this violent incident in which Detective Hershey was shot,” said Executive Director Thomas Eicher of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. “I commend all of the detectives and attorneys who conducted this investigation and presented this indictment to the state grand jury.”
“The brazen ambush attack of Detective Richard Hershey was a violent assault that put the lives of innocent bystanders in jeopardy. Detective Hershey stood his ground under a barrage of gunfire and his actions undoubtedly prevented this assault from becoming a mass casualty incident,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We never relented in our pursuit to hold these individuals accountable for their cowardly actions. These indictments send a clear message that attempted murder of a police officer will be met with swift justice.”
Hutchings, Warner, Hadden and Colby Opperman, 19, of Bridgeton, N.J., are charged in the indictment with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (2nd degree), and Hutchings, Hadden, and Warner are charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (2nd degree).
Ashley Acevedo-Diaz 23, of Bridgeton, N.J., is charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (3rd Degree) and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (4th Degree). Melissa Romero 23, of Bridgeton, N.J., is charged with Conspiracy to Unlawfully Possess a Weapon (2nd Degree).
Hutchings, Warner, Hadden, Opperman, Acevedo-Diaz, Romero, Shakeem Waters, 32, of Bridgeton, N.J., Noel Lazu, 21, of Bridgeton, N.J., Thomas Nieves, 31, of Bridgeton, N.J., Markese Rogers, 26, of Pittsgrove, N.J., Chayana Diaz, 23, of Bridgeton, N.J., Rovell Mcarthur, 27, of Vineland, N.J., Aisha Mcarthur, 26, of Vineland, N.J., and Jenislen Quiles, 21, of Bridgeton, N.J., are charged in the indictment with Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Assault (2rd Degree) and Riot (3rd Degree). Hadden faces an additional charge of Possession of a Weapon by a Convicted Felon (2nd Degree).
Imari Lazu, 23, of Bridgeton, N.J., who was charged previously in this incident, pleaded guilty this morning to Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering (2nd Degree). Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that she be sentenced to three years in state prison.
Hutchings, Warner, and Hadden allegedly opened fire on Detective Hershey at approximately p.m. Saturday, April 25, at the Harding Woods mobile home park on Harding Highway in Pittsgrove. At the time, Detective Hershey was investigating a home invasion that took place at the mobile home park several hours earlier in which a woman was beaten and robbed.
While Detective Hershey was conducting the investigation, a hostile mob of 15 people linked to the assailants in the home invasion arrived in a caravan of five vehicles. Some members of the caravan exited their vehicles and confronted Detective Hershey, who identified himself as a law enforcement officer and issued commands in an effort to control the intruders. Hutchings and Warner allegedly fired at Detective Hershey from one vehicle, and Hadden allegedly fired at him from another vehicle.
Detective Hershey was struck in the upper leg and seriously wounded. He returned fire with his service weapon and the suspects fled the scene.
The case was presented to the state grand jury by Deputy Attorneys General Rachael Weeks and Abigail R. Holmes, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Debra Conrad, who is Deputy Chief of the OPIA Integrity Bureau, Director Carolyn Murray, and OPIA Executive Director Eicher.
The shooting investigation was conducted by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, Division of Criminal Justice, and New Jersey State Police, specifically the Major Crime Unit South, Troop “A” Criminal Investigation Office, Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Cold Case Unit of the New Jersey State Police. Arrests were made by the New Jersey State Police Fugitive and TEAMS Units. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
First-degree attempted murder carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison, with a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed, and a fine of up to $, Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $, Possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory minimum term of five years without parole. Unlawful possession of a weapon carries a mandatory term of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed or 3 ½ years, whichever is greater. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,, while fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to eighteen months in prison and a fine up to $10,
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
For Hutchings: Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.
For Warner: Joseph D. Lento, Esq.
For Hadden: Ronald B. Thompson, Esq.
For Opperman: David R. Branco, Esq.
For Waters: Robert C. Wolf, Esq.
For Acevedo-Diaz: Al Wheeler, Esq.
For Imari Lazu: Margeau J. Ney, Esq.
For Noel Lazu: Amanda H. Mazzoni, Esq.
For Romero: James Joseph Leonard, Esq.
For Nieves: Albert W. Allison, Esq.
For Rogers: Terry B. Stomel, Esq.
For Diaz: Matthew W. Portella, Esq.
For Rovell McArthur: Wayne Powell, Esq.
For Aisha McArthur: Justin Loughry, Esq.
For Quiles: John P. Morris, Esq.
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‘It is not who we are’: Mass shooting near Bridgeton leaves community shaken, but resolved
“Gouldtown is where people move to,” said the young man who survived the shooting. He lives in Bridgeton, and said many city residents frequently cross the border to visit the town, as many party-goers did last night.
The man said the shooting was likely sparked by a beef among people from Bridgeton.
He said young people from the city have long picked up guns over petty squabbles, like stepping on someone’s sneakers or talking to someone’s girlfriend.
“It’s pointless s**t,” said the man, “but when you live so close to a motherf***er and all you got going for you is your respect, you know, you want to see who got the juice.”
As attendees consoled each other in person and through social media, local leaders were planning community events. Keene said he will bring grief counselors to the church later this week. A vigil is being planned for Memorial Day weekend.
John Fuqua is president of Life Worth Living Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on gang prevention and intervention. He said he wont speculate on the motives of the shooters, though he said there is no doubt that the incident will deeply affect many residents.
Still, there are good things happening in Bridgeton, said Fuqua, including his summer basketball league, which kicked off its preseason on Sunday afternoon with more than 50 children and teens on the courts at Bridgeton City Park. Volunteers of America Delaware Valley had staff offering mental health resources at the game.
Were going to continue with our normally scheduled activities,” he said. “None of these guys had anything to do with that shooting, none of these guys or girls pulled the trigger of a gun So, we gonna continue to play.