NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Residents in Newark were shaken following a shooting Wednesday night that left two teens dead and a third critically injured.
The killings happened around 10 p.m. outside a three-family home on Schley Street and brought Newark’s murder total for the year, to 100 for the first time since 2006.
Junior Clark lives nearby and was on his way to work when he said he saw the gunman just minutes before the shooting.
“I saw the gun under his arm, you know, under his jacket,” he told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell. “I heard when the shots fired. I was getting ready to close the gate and they walked to the corner right there. It was three of them and I heard when one of them said ‘let’s go back, let’s go back.'”
A 13-year-old girl, identified as Zainee Hailey, and 15-year-old Kasson Mormon were shot and killed, according to prosecutors. Another boy, 14, was also shot and is in critical condition. His name was not immediately released.
According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the shooting happened outside of Hailey’s home Christmas night. Community activist Cassandra Dock told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan that Hailey was an innocent bystander.
“This is wrong. She’s 13. All she was doing was taking out the garbage, Christine. That’s wrong,” Dock said.
Mormon was a freshman at Central High who loved singing in the choir, according to his principal, Sharnee Brown.
“He was a good kid. Our kids go through a journey, and he was cut down in that journey,” Brown said.
Neighbors were anxiously awaiting more information about how and why this all happened. Sources said the shooting appears to have been targeted and may be connected to a carjacking, but investigators have not given a motive, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“The Wild West in the South Ward. You usually just have to tell your kids to watch for cars in the street. Now you have to tell them to watch for bullets and that’s sad,” resident Monica Toodle said.
“I’m just so sorry. They’re so young,” neighbor Lucille Heyward told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney. “It’s just so sad.”
“Now look at the sadness on a Christmas night that will forever be with families,” Minister Thomas Ellis said.
Ellis is the head of the local Enough is Enough Coalition.
“This is a mental thing. You got to have a mental problem to shoot and kill somebody,” he told Putney.
Ellis added that kids are senselessly full of anger.
Many area residents gathered near the crime scene Thursday, demanding an end to the violence, 1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer reported. Neighbors called for those responsible for the shooting to turn themselves in, Lehpamer said.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force and the Newark Police Department are investigating. Officials said the investigation is active and ongoing.
Less than a mile away from the scene, police were investigating another shooting that happened early Wednesday morning. Five people were shot during a fight at Slick’s Go Go Bar in Irvington around 12:45 a.m. The incident apparently started when a bouncer tried to stop a man from entering the bar with a gun.
Three of the victims died.
Police were still looking for the gunman in that case. Witnesses said a gray sedan sped away from the club just after the shootings. A $10,000 reward was being offered for information leading to an arrest.
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