NEWARK (CBSNewYork) — Newark had been experiencing a decline in violent crime this year, until a recent wave of killings changed everything.
Ten people were slain over a 10-day stretch, the latest a 14-year-old boy who was gunned down outside the Riverview Terrace housing complex late Wednesday.
Generally, such a spike would mean some of the crimes would be linked, but there is no sign the 10 killings are connected, Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.
DeMaio said police cannot “arrest our way out of this problem.” He called for help from the community and parents, pointing to the fact that the 14-year-old shooting victim, Ali Rajohn Eric Henderson, had five prior arrests and more than 3,000 decks of heroin and a loaded handgun inside his bedroom.
“He was 50 feet away from his home when the murder took place,” DeMaio said. “You can’t tell me that the parent doesn’t know what’s going on.”
Prior to the string of slayings, Newark had seen 19 fewer shooting victims this year than it had through late August of 2012. The city has had 59 homicides in 2013.
No arrests have been made in Henderson’s killing.
Police will focus on suspects who could be involved in drug activity, because at least half of the homicides since last week have involved people in the drug trade, DeMaio said.
Mayor Cory Booker, who is running for U.S. Senate in a special election, announced a new anti-crime initiative Wednesday.
“The violence we’ve seen over the last 10 days is unacceptable,” Booker said in a statement. “The spate of violence that our city has seen over the last couple of weeks is unconscionable, and drives me towards both anger and sadness.”
Republican opponent Steve Lonegan has criticized Booker for not spending enough time in Newark or doing enough to curb crime.
Some residents agree.
“Mayor Booker wants to go parade across the country being savior, well God bless him, but, unfortunately, his residents in his city are hurting and he’s not here,” self-described community activist Donald Jackson told 1010 WINS. “It’s becoming a crisis in our city and the residents are tired…We’re living in hell.”
Community activist Donna Jackson said crime is up, but the number of police officers is down.
“We have officers calling up for back-up and being told, ‘No cars available,'” Jackson said. “Nobody’s talking about that, but that’s the reality of what’s going on in this city.”
Booker is boosting police patrols in troubled neighborhoods, deploying additional police to target gun violence and increasing overtime to keep more officers on the streets in an effort to curb violence.
The mayor has also commenced “Operation Blue Zone,” which will send concentrated police resources and significant assets around the city.
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