What to Know
- State police in New Jersey say at least three people are now dead and 11 others wounded in a shooting at a house party in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County
- Photos from the scene show pop-up party tents, tables and chairs overturned, and debris scattered throughout the yard
- Two brothers from Bridgeton have been arrested in connection with the shooting, but police have not said if either was the suspected shooter
A third person has died from injuries suffered in a "targeted attack" at a birthday party at a South Jersey house that left at least two others dead and 11 more wounded.
New Jersey State Police announced Tuesday that 19-year-old Braylin Holmes died Monday night in the hospital as she was being treated for her injuries.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the shooting at a party on Saturday night was "not a random act of violence," but rather a "targeted attack."
He named the other two victims who died in the shooting as 30-year-old Kevin Elliott and 25-year-old Asia Hester. Both were from Bridgeton.
Authorities arrived at the house in Fairfield Township, about an hour outside of Philadelphia, late Saturday night. A resident who runs a local anti-violence organization said he was called out to assist families at the 90s-themed party. John Fuqua, of Life Worth Living, said guests who attended the party were of all ages.
At least 11 other people between 19 and 35 years of age were injured and transported to area hospitals. Some of the injured had been released from hospitals by Monday morning.
Police also announced Tuesday that another person had been arrested in connection to the shooting. Darrell Dawkins was charged with weapon possession, but police said it was too early to determine if the 30-year-old Bridgeton resident was a suspected shooter. His older brother, 36-year-old Kevin Dawkins, was arrested earlier in the week also on weapons charges, but investigators would not say if he was the suspected shooter.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the shooting “horrific.”
“This despicable and cowardly act of gun violence only steels our commitment to ensuring New Jersey leads the nation in passing and enforcing strong and commonsense gun safety laws,” Murphy said in a statement. “No community should ever experience what occurred last night in Fairfield.”
Photos from the scene show pop-up party tents, tables and chairs overturned, and debris scattered throughout the yard. A long driveway was still filled with cars late Sunday morning.
Two cousins who live in the area of the shooting said they heard music from the party until after midnight, then a series of shots — at least 15 of them over a few minutes.
Joeron Pierce and James Pierce, who live in homes next to each other, said there was chaos after that. Partygoers ran through their yards and asked to come into their houses. They said cars ran into one other trying to get away.
Fairfield Township Mayor Benjamin Byrd Sr., who was at the scene Sunday, said that Gov. Murphy offered his support and help.
“Nobody knows when someone's going to come out of the woods with a gun,” Byrd said. He did not have any details about the shooting.
Melissa Helmbrecht, who works for Hopeloft, a Bridgeton advocacy group for at-risk young people, said several people in the group were at the party at the time of the shooting.
“It was hundreds of people, our neighbors, who were just getting together because it was the first really warm, nice night. There were a lot of parties and get-togethers throughout the community, and this was probably the biggest," Helmbrecht said.
Fuqua told NBC10 his family members were at the party and his nephew had to run for his life as gunshots rang out from the woods.
“My nephew said he was having a good time and next thing all he heard was shooting and he was running for his life. He got on the ground, he had to crawl. He stepped over a dead body," he said.
So far this year, 229 mass shootings recorded across the U.S., according to a tally comes from the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit group says 60 of the mass shootings, which are defined by four or more shooting victims (excluding the shooter), were reported in May alone.
Just last month, Gov. Murphy called for a dozen new gun control measures. Gun laws in the Garden State are considered among the toughest in the nation and the governor said the new proposals didn’t stem from what was going on in other states, but the recent shootings have “further emboldened us without question.”