Fairfield Twp. Shooting That Killed Two, Injured a Dozen was ‘Targeted’
FAIRFIELD (Cumberland) — A Bridgeton man has been arrested and charged in a shooting late Saturday night during a birthday party that left a man and woman dead and a dozen injured.
Authorities said the shooting was a targeted attack but they have not publicly said whether the shooting was gang-related.
"This was not a random act of violence. This was a targeted attack," Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Monday morning during a news conference with Gov. Phil Murphy and Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae.
"There’s a significant amount of evidence to process," Grewal said, adding that additional charges and arrests are anticipated.
A female guest at the party told the New York Post the shooting may be connected to "two local rival factions of young men" in a rivalry that dates back to the 1960s.
Grewal identified the two victims killed in the shooting as Kevin Elliott, 30, and Asia Hester, 25, both of Fairfield. "Multiple weapons" were recovered from the scene.
Kevin K. Dawkins, 36, Bridgeton, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of a large capacity magazine and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. He was not charged with killing or injuring any victim. He is being held in the Cumberland County Jail.
Dawkins had a semi-automatic Glock 23 handgun loaded with 22 cartridges, according to the complaint and affidavit. Based on an anonymous call, police said they found him in a wooded area behind the Maple Garden Apartment Complex lying beside a tree and holding the handgun in his right hand. Police said he complied with an officer's order to drop his weapon.
Gov. Phil Murphy said that many of the 12 other shooting victims have been released from hospitals while others "continue to fight for their lives" but did not disclose exact numbers.
The governor also lamented the occasion of gun violence in a state that has some of the toughest gun restrictions in the nation.
"What we saw here in Fairfield is a microcosm of the scale of gun violence we see elsewhere in other communities in our state and across the country," Murphy said. "We are at the point where this kind of horrific scene is almost part of our daily lives. It has become commonplace. If there is one thing we can never normalize, it is senseless gun violence."
State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan said a birthday party on King Drive in Fairfield had broken up around 11 p.m. Saturday night after several noise complaints were made to police. Many of the partygoers then went to the house at 1029 Commerce St. where the shooting took place.
A trooper who heard what he thought was fireworks or gunfire was the first to respond to the house on Commerce Street around 11:30 p.m. just as numerous 911 calls began to come in.
Anyone with video, images or information about suspicious activity after the shooting was asked to come forward and anonymously report their information to the Cumberland County Prosecutor's office at their tips page at njccpo.org/tips or by calling 856-453-0486.
Murphy on Monday praised the efforts of HopeLoft for helping with mental and social service support in the hours after the shooting.
Erin Vogt contributed to this report