Officials have made four arrests and identified a fifth suspect in a series of homicides in Newark and elsewhere in Essex County during the last two weeks, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray announced at a press conference Tuesday in Newark.
The arrests include a 15-year-old charged with the murder of another two children, ages 13 and 15, on Christmas night. The youth, a Newark resident whose name was not released due to his age, may be charged as an adult, Murray said.
County law enforcement officials Tuesday attended the funeral for one of the victims, Zainee Hailey, who, along with 15-year-old Kasson Mormon, were shot and killed at a Schley Street home. Murray declined to discuss a motive for the killing but did say that Zainee Hailey was an “innocent bystander” and not the target.
A third person, a 14-year-old boy, was shot in the same incident. He remained hospitalized in serious condition Tuesday, officials said.
Murray also noted that Essex County has seen an increase in homicides of more than 20 percent this year versus 2012. Anthony Ambrose, the chief of detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, said the jump could be blamed at least partly on an increase in multiple homicides due to the use of automatic weapons. There were a total of nine multiple homicides in Essex County this year, the highest total ever, Ambrose said.
Police also made two arrests in another killing in a year that was already on pace to be one of the most violent in Newark in recent memory. On Dec. 21, Reginald Terry, an 18-year-old college student, was shot and killed while at a Washington Street party.
Damiar Pendergrass, 18, and Raquan Langford, 19, both of Newark, were arrested Tuesday in connection with that incident. The men were each being held on $750,000 bail.
Officials also identified a suspect wanted in connection with a brutal triple homicide early Christmas morning that claimed the lives of three patrons of an Irvington go-go bar. Pierre Clervoyant, 34, of Elizabeth, Woodley Daniel, 32, of Hillside, and Mushir Cureton, 27, of Newark all were killed, while two other people were wounded.
A warrant has been issued charging Anthony Fields, 19, of Newark, with three counts of murder, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Fields was still at-large Tuesday.Officials also arrested Babatope Owoseni, 33, of East Orange, and charged him with killing his wife Fatoumata, 26, on Dec. 27 in East Orange. Fatouma Owoseni was nine months pregnant.