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Late Wednesday, authorities were investigating a 10th killing.
Police Director Samuel DeMaio said a 14-year-old boy was shot to death at about 9 p.m. in the courtyard of the Riverview Terrace housing complex. The victim, who DeMaio said lived at the housing project, was not immediately identified. DeMaio said he did not have any information on a motive or suspect.
He said, however, that none of the 10 killings is linked, but the shootings weren't random.
Meanwhile, as Edwards’ family began to make funeral arrangements on Wednesday, the bloodshed became part of a larger political narrative as Mayor Cory Booker tries to tout his record in Newark amid a contentious battle for a U.S. Senate seat.
While Booker announced a new police initiative in response to the wave of killings, his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, quickly took aim at the mayor for campaigning while his city’s body count continued to rise.
It started Aug. 26, when 20-year-old Kiamesha Minton was gunned down sitting in a parked car, caught in the middle of a domestic dispute, prosecutors said. Two men were shot and killed the next day, and two brothers suffered the same fate Aug. 30 in a triple shooting on Vassar Avenue.
The violence continued Saturday, when a man was shot and killed outside the defunct Queen of Angels Church on Irvine Turner Boulevard. Less than an hour later, a woman was stabbed to death during another domestic dispute.
None of the incidents are connected, according to police, who announced an arrest in one of the slayings yesterday. Zakia Merrill, 22, of Newark, was charged with murder and weapons offenses in connection with the Saturday afternoon stabbing of 21-year-old Ebony Martin on Parkhurst Street.
On Sunday evening, 20-year-old Jesus Torres was delivering a pizza in the city’s West Ward when he was shot, and he later died after his car crashed into a building.
Dejaa Edwards died Tuesday night.
Details of Wednesday night’s killing at Riverview Terrace were not immediately available.
The city’s death toll was 49 on Aug. 25, the day before the surge began, down from 56 killings by that date in 2012. Booker yesterday said he will extend summer patrol initiatives and offer more police overtime to increase presence in some of the city’s most dangerous corners.
"We can either let this shake us into inaction or motivate us to act and, something that we're seeing already, some of the biggest gains we've gotten this year have come about because of the engagement and activity of our citizens," Booker said after a campaign event in Hackensack.
DeMaio said late Wednesday the new initiatives will focus on suspects who could be involved in drug activity, because at least half of the homicides that have occurred last week have involved people in the drug trade.
"They're not happening at the same location, but the majority of them are in the 5th Precinct (which largely comprises the South Ward), and that's what we're gonna focus on," he said.
James Allen, a Booker spokesman, said the mayor was at the scene of Wednesday night's killing and is working closely with DeMaio on city’s overall policing strategy.
Earlier in the day, Lonegan chided Booker for campaigning for the Senate while the crime wave continued in his city.
"This guy should not be stepping foot out of Newark," Lonegan said. "He's got people getting shot every day … he's got a major crisis in Newark."
Edwards was shot about 10 p.m. Tuesday when at least five shots rang out near a Hawthorne Avenue playground, prosecutors and relatives said. She was struck in the chest and died a short time later, according to relatives. A 30-year-old man also suffered a bullet wound, but he is expected to survive, police said.
"It does not appear that she was the intended target," said Thomas Fennelly, Essex County’s chief assistant prosecutor.
The attack touched off a frantic scene, said Lewis Collier, pastor at the Macedonia Pentecostal Church, who was leaving his church’s evening service when he heard gunshots. As he drove away, one of Edwards’ friends jumped out from behind a parked car and banged on his window, screaming as loud as she could.
"Let me in, I think my girlfriend just got shot!" she yelled, according to Collier.
Collier called police, and returned to the crime scene minutes later. Collier said the girl ran toward Edwards’ body, and broke down as the dead woman’s hand went limp.
Edwards was born in Jersey City, and lived in Virginia for a time before returning to Newark to try and fulfill her dream of becoming a beautician, relatives said. She had worked in the dietary department at Clara Maas Hospital in Belleville for at least five years, and also worked as a part-time model. A godmother to several of her friends’ children, Edwards’ stepmother used to nudge her about starting a family.
"I was hoping she would give us a granddaughter," Clarke said.