Newark: Read This And Weep
It is believed that Natasha was assaulted first. She was stabbed and shot in the head. She was found some 30 feet away from the others. The other three were forced to kneel against a wall and shot at close range to the back of the head; they had no chance.
Notwithstanding the fact that 28-year-old immigrant Jose Carranza has been arrested as the suspected gunman in the execution of three New Jersey youth and the wounding of one other, this Saturday marks one of the saddest days for Newark.
There will be three separate funerals for the victims; one remains hospitalized. She was instrumental in providing evidence leading to arrests. Earlier, a 15 year-old boy said to have been involved had been arrested. The motives aren’t yet clear; forensic evidence ties Carranza who has pled not guilty, to the killings, Newark authorities say.
On Saturday, August 5, 2007, the lives of three families, a university and the city of Newark were changed forever. Natasha Aeriel, 19 and her 18 years old brother Terrence, and 20 year old Dashon Harvey and Iofemi Hightower went out at approximately 10:30 PM to get something to eat. They were expected back home shortly.
It remains unclear how they ended up at a back area of local elementary, Mount Vernon School. They were in the parking lot and playground area behind the school eating and listening to music. These four bright and rising stars were all planning to leave soon to go to Delaware State University, a historical Black college. They had no criminal records.
Several men came into the area where they were sitting. The four friends exchanged text messages indicating they were concerned about their safety. Before they could leave, they were ambushed. It is believed that they did not know their assailants. Could robbery have been the motive behind this attack as suggested?
In an instance all the promise of three of these young people were snuffed out. It is believed that Natasha was assaulted first. She was stabbed and shot in the head. She was found some 30 feet away from the others. The other three were forced to kneel against a wall and shot at close range to the back of the head; they had no chance.
Two of the three cameras overlooking the area had been long vandalized. Brave Natasha, the lone survivor, is currently at Newark’s University Hospital in stable condition under heavy police protection. She was shot close to her ear and the bullet lodged behind her jaw.
A daunting and staggering statistic is that when these three promising young adults were executed they became the 58th, 59th, and 60th murder victims in Newark this year. The authorities report the overall crime rate has decreased by about 20%; this cannot be of much comfort to the victims.
Moreover, murders continue at an alarming rate. Last year, there were 106 murders in Newark, New Jersey. There have been three fewer murders for the same time-period in 2006; yet there have been 17 people killed in Newark since June 12th. That’s over an eight week period.
These murder victims are not just statistics to their families. There has been an outcry against Mayor Cory Booker and his campaign pledge to cut the crime rate. Newark New Jersey is a city in crisis; a city under siege.
Ironically, two of these college students were planning to leave on the Monday
to return to Delaware State University. Terrence Aeriel, nicknamed TJ, a freshman, was getting ready to start his second semester.
He played the French horn. He was an ordained minister. His true passion was preaching. He was involved with a community group—United Vailsburg Services, which helps everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. He was an after school counselor. There is talk about renaming the center after him.
Dashon Harvey, nicknamed Shawny, a junior, was on pace to graduate May 2009 with a degree in psychology; he too was due back Monday. He was starting a job in the university’s admissions office. He had just received a promotion from orientation assistant to telecounselor. He was a drum major. He never had a chance to serve out his newly elected position of Mr. Junior. Everyone knew and liked him.
Iofemi Hightower, nicknamed Sheena, was scheduled to go in a couple of week to freshman orientation. She was in the process of applying but was not enrolled yet because of a few outstanding documents. She had work for two years to save up money so that she could go to college. She had two jobs. She worked in an assisted living home during the day along with her mom and at night she worked for Chelsea Food Services which serviced an airline at Newark Liberty International Airport. She comes from a musical family and was a natural drummer.
A junior, Natasha Aeriel, like the other young people, was excelling in school. She was the common denominator that linked the three other lives. She was Terrence’s sister, Iofemi’s childhood best friend, and Dashon’s friend and fellow classmate of several years meeting him at Delaware State University. Delaware State will have a memorial once school resumes for the fall semester.
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