Although the shooting death of a 17-year-old high school student last weekend got most of the headlines in Jersey City, in the last two weeks of October, the city was rocked by more than a dozen other shootings, after a lull.
Jade Saunders, 17, of Jersey City, was shot dead in the area of Brinkerhoff Street in Jersey City at about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 26.
Two days later, a 2-year-old boy and a 20-year-old woman were shot inside their Myrtle Avenue home. They survived.
These topped a two-week period in which as many as 13 different shooting incidents happened throughout the city, higher than any two-week period so far in 2018.
“Both shooting incidents this weekend happened indoors, which makes the investigations more complicated,” said Mayor Steven Fulop in a statement. “In some of the incidents, some of the victims and witnesses have been uncooperative which, in turn, usually ends up taking more time for us to gather information. We are currently still sorting through information and will remain vigilant in catching the shooters.”
Fulop later elaborated on this, saying he was not playing down the seriousness of the loss of life when he said some of the shootings may have involved “targeted” incidents, rather than random shootings.
He described these two weeks as a blip in an otherwise good year in which shootings overall were down.
“I feel confident that we are seeing a downward trend,” he said.
In data available as of July, Jersey City showed a 42-percent drop in murders and 27-percent in shootings from a year earlier.
While the last two years may have seen an overall reduction in shootings, the Police Department stats show that in there an upward trend since 2013. In 2016 the department investigated 80 non–fatal shootings, up from 69 in 2015 and 59 in 2014. There were 24 homicides in Jersey City in 2016. In 2017, Jersey City saw 20 murders.
The current two-week shooting spree is not new either. In September, three people were shot and killed during a two-week period, including a 17-year-old Ferris High School student.
Saunders was a student at Lincoln High School
Saunders was pronounced dead on the scene when police found her inside 76 Brinkerhoff St. on Oct. 26. She was apparently not the intended victim and has been described in the wrong place at the wrong time. Several of her friends apparently witnessed the incident.
A second victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries at the scene. He was transported by Emergency Medical Services to the Jersey City Medical Center. He was treated and released Saturday, Oct. 27.
The Hudson County Prosecutor’s office later identified two more victims who had left the scene of the shooting before the police arrived.
One of the additional victims, 19, from Jersey City, sustained a gunshot-graze wound to his torso and the other victim, 19, from Jersey City, sustained a gunshot wound to one of his upper extremities. The additional victims were identified during the investigation.
School community in shock
Saunders was a senior at Lincoln High and was studying at the city’s Renaissance Institute.
Lincoln High School Principal Chris Gadsden called this senseless violence and went on to say that Saunders was looking forward to graduating and going to the prom.
“I feel horrible for her friends who had witness her dying in front of them,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
In a statement, Schools Superintendent Dr. Marcia Lyles said the Jersey City Public Schools community was devastated by the news that Saunders was shot and killed while she was out with friends.
“Jade was a well-liked senior whose tragic and senseless death has shaken her school and community,” Lyles said. “She was a beautiful and beloved student who was expecting to graduate from high school in June and preparing for a bright future. Her death leaves all of us shaken and saddened. Our thoughts are with Jade’s family, friends and all of Lincoln and Renaissance High School. Grief counselors are available at both schools to provide additional emotional support to students and staff. We must come together not only to support one another and to heal, but to work together to stop the violence and mindless loss of life.”
Saunders reportedly had planned to attend cosmetology school and become a hair stylist. She has four brothers and two sisters.
The prosecutor’s Homicide Unit is actively investigating this case with assistance from the Jersey City Police Department. No arrests have been made at this time. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor at (201) 915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip at: http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential.