5 dead in 3 days: Newark homicide surge sparks call for more cops in high-crime areas

By James Queally/The Star-Ledger
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on October 16, 2013

Newark Councilman and mayoral candidate Anibal Ramos, seen here in a file photo, called for more officers to be placed in high-crime areas after the city saw its fifth homicide in a 72-hour span.


NEWARK — Hours after Newark suffered its fifth homicide in less than 72 hours, officials in the state's largest city began calling for a concentrated public safety strategy to curb the bloodshed.

Shaheed Cook, 36, was shot and killed in the 900 block of South 20th Street shortly before midnight on Tuesday, marking the fifth homicide in the state's largest city since Sunday morning, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said.

Cook was pronounced dead at the scene. His brother was also shot and critically wounded in the attack, according to Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio.

The city has suffered 78 homicides this year, up from 71 during the same time frame in 2012, and that increase prompted one city councilman to call for a change in police tactics today.

Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., a 2014 mayoral candidate, sent a letter to other council members today urging them to consider implementing part of his public safety plan, which calls for putting more officers on patrol in the city's most dangerous corners.

All five of this week's homicides happened in the South Ward.

"I ask you, for the safety of our residents, to put politics aside on this important issue and consider moving quickly on these initiatives," he wrote.

South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka and Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif are also vying to replace Newark Mayor Cory Booker in the May election. Former assistant attorney general Shavar Jeffries is also in the race.

Baraka said he has been calling for increased police resources in the South Ward for years, and dismissed Ramos' letter as a "political stunt." He released a public safety plan last week that focused on curing the social ills that often contribute to city crime.

“The average shooter has been arrested about four or five times," Baraka said. "We have no real intervention, no real pre-entry in the city, to try and prevent this kind of thing that is going on.”

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