After a weekend in which two men were shot to death in separate incidents in Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop issued a quarterly report on crime in the city, showing a downward trend. But some residents said they believe the crime situation will only get worse.
A 19-year old Newark man was charged on April 9 with the shooting death of a 63-year-old Jersey City man on April 6 during a failed robbery. In another incident, a 48-year old man died on April 5 as a result of multiple gunshot wounds received in his hallway at 28 Seidler St.
The crime statistics report issued by the Jersey City Police Department shows crime in decline for first quarter of this year over the same time last year.
“Public safety continues to be a major priority for my administration,” Fulop said in a release. “I am accountable to all Jersey City residents both when we succeed and when we experience setbacks, so I want to share the most recent quarterly crime statistics for the city.”
He said he would issue these quarterly reports to allow the public to see progress and other areas that might need improvement.
“To continue our focus on reducing crime, I want to share with you that we currently have a total of 783 sworn officers on the force, including 34 officers who graduated in December,” he said. “There will be a further 37 graduates in June, bringing our total force to 820, just in time for the summer months.”
The report showed that shootings in the first quarter declined from 16 during the first quarter of 2012 to 13 this year. Assaults dropped from 328 to 295, with aggravated assaults dropping from 158 to 115 during the same period.
Auto thefts and residential and commercial burglaries also dropped, as did criminal mischief, larceny, sexual assault, drug-related crimes and shoplifting.
One murder in Jersey City occurred in the first quarter this year, according to the report. During the same time period in 2013, there were two. This was down from five murders reported during the first quarter of 2012.
Last year, Jersey City suffered a brutal summer in which there were six murders in one four-week period.
Reaction to the mayor’s crime report
Several residents at the April 9 City Council meeting reacted to the mayor’s report by saying the report does not paint a completely accurate picture of the crime situation.
Riaz Wahid, a well-known advocate for the homeless, said the city may be poised for an increase in crime in the summer.
“It will be different when it gets warmer,” he said. “We need a better plan to deal with it.”
Wahid said that similar declining crime statistics had not satisfied Fulop when Fulop served as a councilman.
“Now he says it’s okay,” Wahid said. “But it’s not okay.”
Former Deputy Mayor Kabili Tayari said he was impressed with effort being made by Fulop and Public Safety Director John Shea.
“But more needs to be done,” he said. “Some crimes go unreported. We had a drive-by shooting last week.”
He said the real solution to crime is job creation.
“There will always be some crime,” he admitted. But he said there was drive by shooting in Jersey City last week.
“Poverty leads to crime,” he said. “But we all know where crime is going on. I see drug dealers on the street. Members of this council and the police know all the hot spots. But before we can solve this problem, we have to create stability and that means jobs.”
The Hudson County Prosecutor’s office said that Joshua E. Higgins was arrested in Newark on April 9 with the assistance to the U.S. Marshal’s Service and charged with murder, robbery, and weapons charges.
Higgins was formally charged with murder on April 10. His bail, according to Assistant Prosecutor Gene Rubino, has been set at $500,000 cash.
Police said witnesses reported that George T. Smith and his wife had just come home from nearby Moose Hall. When they pulled into their driveway, a vehicle blocked them in. Two males emerged from the car and allegedly took his wife’s purse. When Smith attempted to get his wife’s purse back he was shot in his upper torso. Neighbors were alerted by screams from the victim’s wife and immediately called police, who were dispatched to the area of Kennedy Boulevard and Danforth Avenue just after midnight on a report of shots being fired and a man down.
Police found Smith lying in his driveway on Danforth Avenue. A neighbor and police officers attempted to resuscitate the victim until Emergency Medical Services arrived on the scene. The victim was transported to the Jersey City Medical Center and pronounced dead at approximately 12:55 a.m.
“Someone said a young African-American male came into the Moose Lodge bar about a half hour before and was asked to leave because he was not a member,” one witness at Moose Hall said.
Nearly 72 hours after the homicide, the Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit arrested Higgins and charged him with felony murder, robbery, and related firearms offenses.
Also arrested in a crime related to the alleged murder was Donte Gaskin, 19, of Irvington for allegedly being in possession of the cellular telephone belonging to the victim’s wife. The phone was taken during the robbery, the prosecutor said. Gaskin is charged with receiving stolen property. Bail for Gaskin was set at $75,000 cash or bond.
The Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit is continuing the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit at (201) 915-1345 or by email at email@example.com. All contacts will be kept confidential.
Fatal shooting on Seidler Street
In an unrelated incident, a 48-year old man died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds after an April 5 shooting on Seidler St. in Jersey City, said Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory. Just after 2 p.m., Jersey City police responded to that address on the report of gun shots being fired.
Responding officers found the victim, who has now been identified as Kenneth Chisolm, 48, on the hallway floor, unresponsive. Homicide detectives believe that the victim walked out into the hallway from his apartment, to which he had recently moved, where he was shot multiple times.
Police began C.P.R. efforts until Emergency Medical Services arrived on the scene. The victim was transported to the Jersey City Medical Center and pronounced dead at approximately 2:55 p.m.
The Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit is currently investigating the shooting with the assistance of the Jersey City Police Department. A motive has not been identified at this time.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit at (201) 915-1345 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All contacts will be kept confidential.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.