Update: Benjamin DaVila killed in drive-by that sprayed block with bullets
TRENTON — Gloria Gonzales was inside her home on the 100 block of Passiac Street when she heard the shots ring out Wednesday night. She knew her grandson was sitting on her porch smoking a cigarette and called for him to come back inside.
Benjamin DaVila Jr., 23, answered the call and went back inside the house. DaVila Jr.’s grandfather, Luis Gonzales, called 911 after seeing that his grandson had been shot in the torso.
Luis Gonzales held his grandson’s hand until paramedics arrived, Gloria Gonzalez said. The man who went by “Big Ben” was declared the city’s 17th homicide of 2012 at 8:47 p.m. at the Capital Health Regional Medical Center.
Police were patrolling near Calhoun and Spring Streets when they heard numerous shots ring out from Passiac Street. According to police, a passenger in an unknown vehicle fired numerous shots as the vehicle drove down the street. Police are investigating who the target was of the shooting.
From 117 to 170 of Passiac Street, it looked as though the block was sprayed with bullets. Two boarded-up homes had several bullet holes in them and two vehicles had bullet holes as well.
According to DaVila Jr.’s aunt, Carmen Gonzalez, DaVila Jr. grew up on the block and lived with his grandparents while working in a warehouse and studying graphic design at Mercer County Community College. He hoped to become a video game designer. He helped take care of his 73-year-old grandfather.
“He was working and going to school, he wasn’t in a gang or involved with drugs,” Carmen Gonzalez said. “He tried to keep his head above all of this.”
“He was 23 years old, sitting on a porch smoking a cigarette,” she added. “You can’t even sit on the porch anymore.”