With Newark schools set to reopen next week, the back-to-back deaths of two city children are a grim reminder of the threat posed by gun violence both in and outside of school — a public-health crisis that predated the coronavirus pandemic and and seems to have intensified lately.
“Creating a more peaceful City of Newark is about providing our residents with hope, empowerment, positive choices and alternatives to crime and violence,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who hosted the city’s first-ever “Peace Week” in an effort to unite Newark residents and promote peace.
The week-long initiative started Monday, Aug. 30 and will run through Sunday, Sept. 5, to bring the diverse community together in unity, said Baraka.
Newark police officers discovered 17-year-old Khalif Harrington in the street suffering from a gunshot wound when they responded to a report of shots fired in the area of 403 South Orange Avenue near Ashland Street in the city.
The victim succumbed to this injuries and was pronounced dead at 9:46 p.m. at the scene.
The investigation is active and ongoing. No arrests have been made. Anyone with information about Harrington’s murder is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.
Harrington’s shooting came just one day after a disabled 8-year-old boy, Jahmeer Allen, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in an apartment in the city, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
According to officials, the 8-year-old was in a wheelchair when he died Sunday after suffering fatal injuries from a gunshot wound that was self-inflicted over the weekend.
Essex County prosecutors said the shooting in Newark occurred around 10 p.m. Sunday in a home on the 100 block of Schuyler Avenue.
Prosecutors charged Shaneefah Allen, Jahnaya Black, Marquis Wright charged with crimes related to the boy’s death.
Allen’s aunt, 23-year-old Jahnaya Black, was home and asleep at the time of the shooting, police said.
She faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child, along with Allen’s grandmother and legal guardian, 43-year-old Shaneefah Allen, who was not home at the time of the shooting.
A third relative, the victim’s uncle, 18-year-old Marquis Wright, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, transporting a manufactured firearm without a serial number and allowing a minor access to a loaded firearm, police said.
Authorities believe that Wright brought the gun into the apartment and left it unattended.
Another 10-year-old child was also sleeping in the Schuyler Avenue apartment at the time of the shooting, according to prosecutors.
Shootings in Newark were up 23 percent since the beginning of the year, compared to the same period in 2020, and homicides in he city have increased 25 percent.
New Jersey State Police records show that 90 percent of the 1,180 crimes reported in Newark during the first three months of 2021 and the 6,059 crimes reported in the city during 2020.