By Bradford Mason

The Garden State is seeing a rise in violent crimes, according to reports. Over the last two weeks there have been 18 shootings in Newark alone and Gov. Phil Murphy announced last month that shooting deaths in New Jersey have increased by almost 20% compared to last year.

Some of the most recent violence crimes around the state include the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Rashidah Y. Sutton-Bryant. The young woman, who leaves behind a four-year-old son, was shot on July 26 at the Bradley Court public housing complex. Sutton-Bryant was taken to University Hospital where she died.

Police say that she was not the intended target and have not made any arrests as the investigation continues.

“She has so many people who loved her,” Sutton-Bryant’s aunt, Kelly Sutton-Marshall, said in a published interview. “She was truly, truly loved by many. This has devastated our family.”

In another incident, a shooting on 6th Avenue in Newark on the afternoon of Aug. 2 left three people injured including a 10-year-old girl. The young girl was treated for minor injuries. No information has been given by law enforcement about the motive for the shooting and no suspects have been named.

In Irvington, 31-year-old Lamar Rutherford was killed on 14th Avenue on the night of Aug. 2. No suspects have been arrested.

Three people have been charged in the shooting death of a 17-year-old Girl in Jersey City. Tyeah Garner was shot on July 6 during her sister’s birthday party near Rutgers Avenue and New Street, according to reports. Jahquell Carter, 24, Heavenley Cherry, 19 and Izmae Tinker-Trent, 19 have all been charged with Garner’s murder. Police are still looking for another suspect.

On Aug. 7, two men were reportedly injured during a driveby shooting in Paterson. According to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the shooting occurred on Hamilton Avenue during the afternoon in broad daylight. Police are still looking for the suspect.

A community is still in shock over the fatal shooting of the 20-year-old son of New Jersey federal court Judge Esther Salas. On July 19, Salas’ son, Daniel, was fatally shot by lawyer and known anti-femminist Roy Hollander when Daniel answered the door of his family’s home in North Brunswick. Salas’ husband, Mark Anderl, was also injured during the shooting. Salas was the intended target.

Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy said there are several factors contributing to the rise in violence.

“We’re not immune to what we’re seeing around the country in terms of this lethal cocktail of being pent up, hot weather, trying to undo the state of racism, folks trying to come to grips with community and police relations. There’s a lot of non-COVID violence everywhere, seems like everywhere in the country,” Murphy said.

In a statement released on Aug. 3, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said that as the nation is fighting COVID-19 and racism, Newark is also grappling with a dangerous wave of violence that must be stopped.

“While homicides have been down in Newark for the past four years, this uptick in violence that our city and nation is experiencing during this precarious time will not be tolerated and must be stopped,” Baraka said. “The Newark Police Division is meeting with state and federal partners today to discuss how we can ban together to end this epidemic. Now more than ever, we need the help of every resident, every community group, and every resource, to fight against what appears to be one of our toughest adversaries.”

Baraka held a virtual town hall on Friday with Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose, Police Chief Darnell Henry, and the captains of every precinct, to address the shootings and highlighted ways to end the violence.

The Newark Anti-Violence Coalition (NAVC) condemned the recent wave of violence in a statement on social media. The organization said that many of the shootings have been drivebys and that suspects are even shooting into crowds.

“’Mask up’ does not go out and shoot up your community,” NVAC said. “It means when you have to go out for essential reasons, be intelligent because this disease is still killing people and making people up. Using this call to traumatize our neighborhoods with these shootings is horrible, wrong and most stop at all cost. Put the guns down. Go home.”

NAVC has been walking the neighborhoods where some of the shootings have taken place offering support services.

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