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Newark Mayoral Candidates Address Murder Spike

Zainee Hailey and Kasson Morman (credit: CBS 2)

Zainee Hailey and Kasson Morman (credit: CBS 2)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The family of a slain Newark teenager was pleading Monday with young people to put down their weapons, while two candidates for Newark mayor also took to the streets to bring attention to the rising murder rate.

Candidate Shavar Jeffries held a news conference Monday near the site of a Christmas night shooting that left two young teenagers dead and another seriously wounded.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, Jeffries outlined a five-step initiative to help curb gun violence throughout the city.

The plan includes an increase in police and anti-gang programs for children, as well as a zero tolerance policy for gun violence, Smith reported.

“Anybody who uses an illegal gun in the city of Newark, you are going to prison, period. No exceptions, no excuses,” Jeffries said.

On Sunday, City Councilman and mayoral candidate Ras Baraka also met with relatives of one of the teens.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the parents and brother of Kasson Morman, 15, have seen their hearts broken. They came Monday to a school not far from where the boy was gunned down on Christmas night, along with Zainee Hailey, 13.

“I just want justice,” said Morman’s mother, Alnisa Reeds. “This needs to stop. All our young kids out here dying; innocent people are dying.”

Hailey was taking out the holiday trash from her home with her younger brother, and Morman and her friend were sitting on the porch, when someone opened fire.

Morman’s friend – Abdul Frazier, 14 – was critically injured in the shooting.

On Monday, Kasson Morman’s father, Richard Morman, urged people to speak up to police in order to curb the escalating violence, Smith reported.

“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He wanted to see his godbrother,” Richard Morman said. “He didn’t know what was going on. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Richard Morman continued: “We just lost two babies on a special day; on Christmas. They’re never going to graduate. They’re never going to get to go to their high school prom.”

On surveillance video obtained by CBS 2 News, police rush to the scene, followed by ambulances. Police have not released a motive in the shooting.

At a news conference with Jeffries, Richard Morman said his son was a good kid who loved to sing and dance.

“Words can’t explain what we’re going through,” Richard Morman said.

Some said a red Jeep caught on tape moments before the shooting, and then later towed, has become part of the investigation.

Prosecutors said they have good leads, and detectives have been looking at more video taken from a camera on a utility pole that is now surrounded by candles.

“He is in a better place,” Richard Morman said. “Also, we send our condolences to the Zainee family as well, because, you know they lost their daughter just taking out garbage.”

Hailey’s grandfather told CBS 2 she was truly a little angel. Her funeral will be held Tuesday at the New Zion Baptist Church in Elizabeth, N.J.

She sang in the choir at the church, and her family has been gaining their strength to move on there.

Newark has topped 100 murders within a year for the first time since 2006, when city police counted 107. The number of murders dropped to 67 in 2008 but has risen steadily since then.

Jeffries said 45 of the 104 murders in Newark this year happened in the South Ward where the two teens were slain.

On the same day the teens were killed, three men were also shot to death at another location about half a mile away.

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