ELIZABETH—One person was killed and another seriously hurt in a double shooting near Jefferson Park on Monday.
Authorities say Christopher Cumming, 18, was shot in the chest and died at the scene, while another victim was taken to University Medical Center with three gunshot wounds.
The second victim, Dana Simonetti, 25, was listed in extremely critical condition.
The shooting happened shortly before 9 p.m. in the driveway of an apartment complex on Jefferson Avenue, between Anna and Mary streets. Police say Simonetti was able to crawl between cars and call police. They also said that drugs were found at the scene.
Police surrounded the area as officers searched apartments early Tuesday morning looking for clues as several vehicles were towed from the scene.
Area residents have long claimed the apartment houses near Jefferson Park were an epicenter of drug dealing and other organized crime activity controlled by local street gangs.
“There’s a war. There’s definitely a street war brewing,” said Salaam Ismial, whose United Youth Council is organizing a city-wide youth and family summit on gang violence on Thursday, May 22, at the Bayway Center, 720 Clarkson Avenue.
Ismial acknowledged that Mayor J. Christian Bollwage refusal to recognize the city’s gang problem has contributed to making matters worse.
“What I asked from the mayor is this: I want that area on a lock down,” said Ismial, who explained that there should be police presence at the area for the next several weeks.
Ismial said that the violence plaguing Elizabeth stems in part from a level of disorganization among street gangs vying for control over the drug trade.
Ismial believes smaller subgroups of the Bloods or Crips street gangs are fighting amongst themselves in addition to the deadly competition between each other.
Police wanted to interview the dead victim about the shooting death last month of a 20-year-old Elizabeth man, Terry Murray.
Murray was shot seven times and killed in a gang-style execution on Sunday, April 27, less than five months after he was released from Southern State Correctional Facility.
Murray was incarcerated for 16 months on a five year sentence for unlawful weapons possession, leading police on a dangerous car chase, and drug possession.
Simonetti was released from the state Albert Wagner Youth Correctional Facility on July 2, 2007, where he served 23 months of a four year sentence for several counts of handgun possession plus drug dealing and resisting arrest.
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