PATERSON, NJ - An investigation is underway into a Tuesday night shooting that claimed the lives of four Paterson men and left three additional victims injured.
Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora announced that the incident took place at approximately 11:04 p.m. in the area of Carroll Street and Governor Street.
Upon arrival responding officers discovered seven men who had sustained gunshot wounds. The victims were transported to Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center for treatment with a one released and two others in stable condition. Al Malik Williams and Otis Smith, both 37, Unique Jones, 22, and Nygier Barrett, 25, all succumbed to their wounds and died at the hospital.
"This must end today," Mayor Andre Sayegh stated in a Wednesday statement.
“The severity of this incident speaks to larger problems than urban violence that needs to be addressed in the immediate future,” Sayegh continued. Vowing to engage personally in efforts to bring an end to the violent acts that “steal our young residents and instill fear in the community at large,” Sayegh said he is working with community leaders in an effort to put “the young people who are engaging in this dangerous behavior in a room and explain the gravity of their actions.”
Some of those community leaders, including a local elected official, and a businessman/activist, also spoke to TAPinto Paterson about the tragedy.
Even over the phone the profound sadness felt by Councilwoman-At-Large Dr. Lillisa Mimms was evident as she lamented the loss of more lives. Asked why the “cycle of violence” she spoke of seems to be on a continued upward trajectory Mimms responded “that’s the question.”
“We need to have more conversations, we need to save our children,” Mimms said, calling for an “all hands on deck” effort that includes elected officials and police, parents and youth, clergy and counselors, and more. “Prayer is important,” the ordained minister added, “but we need to pray and take action.”
Doubling down on her statement that everyone has to be a part of the solution, Mimms referred to the well recognized “see something, say something” approach, a difficult strategy, she acknowledged, when those that speak up are seen as snitches.
While himself no stranger to responding to the violence that has too often plagued his community, longtime community leader and business owner Casey Melvin said that the multiple casualty incident left him “paralyzed.”
Melvin pointed to societal issues plaguing urban communities across the country, such as lack of jobs, improper guidance, and a dearth of activities and positive leadership, as those that need to be dealt with to bring about any change. “Hanging out on the street corner shouldn’t be something young people look forward to” he said, renewing his call for increased resources that could go towards increasing employment opportunities, recreational activities, and utilizing the services of trauma specialists.
“It’s snowballing out of control,” he said before adding a more hopeful note that even as Paterson contends with the “jaw-dropping” number of victims, all is not lost. “When we start believing there is nothing we can do it’s over,” he said. “It’s not lights out yet, there’s hope, there’s opportunity.”
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.