Man shot and killed Tuesday morning on South Broad Street

A city man was shot and killed Tuesday morning.

It’s the city’s second reported homicide in less than 24 hours.

Police were dispatched to the 1000 block of South Broad Street around 2 a.m. Tuesday and found the victim, 48-year-old Rodney Burke, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Burke was then taken to St. Francis Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead. Prosecutors say the home where he was found is his residence. Police say Burke was found inside his home, but they believe he was shot elsewhere.

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“We’re not sure how he got inside the home, but we believe he was shot outside,” Lt. Stephen Varn said.

Burke’s murder took place in the South Ward, where four homicides have occurred so far this year. As a comparison, 12 murders have taken place in the North Ward, nine have occurred in the West Ward and the East Ward has experienced four killings.

South Ward Councilman George Muschal said he looks forward to the day when more Trenton Police officers are patrolling the streets. But he said tips from residents play a large part in helping to reduce violent crime.

“Some of these homicides just cannot be prevented, and to point a finger at Mayor Jackson or the Police Director is misguided,” Muschal said. “We’re doing everything we can do to increase the manpower of the department, but we need the citizens to pick up the phone. They’re our eyes and ears. The residents know what’s going on, and they’re the ones who make a difference.”

Acting Police Director Ernest Parrey Jr. said the department is working to bring back a handful of officers who previously worked for TPD, but have gone on to other positions after the 2011 layoffs. The officers will fill positions that have been open ever since other personnel retired. The department also expects 24 new recruits to graduate from the police academy in February, and the city has received a $1.5 million federal grant to hire 12 additional officers in the near future.

Some city residents, including a Trentonian columnist, have suggested that TPD officers should step out of their vehicles more often to engage citizens and build a stronger rapport.

Police investigate a homicide in the 1000 block of South Broad Street. (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Police investigate a homicide in the 1000 block of South Broad Street. (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Director Parrey said patrol officers regularly leave their vehicles to engage the community, and it’s a practice that has been happening since he became Police Director. He acknowledged, however, that the manpower shortage prevents the department from placing an officer on every street corner.

“Right now it’s difficult based upon the manpower we have,” Parrey said. “But all officers are already engaged in the process of getting out of their vehicles. They’ve been instructed by the patrol commander to conduct business checks, and this was long before L.A. Parker decided to write about it. I’m also out at least twice a week, and my commanders are out twice a week.”

Councilman Muschal, who spent 40 years as a TPD officer, said his constituents have also expressed an interest in seeing more police on bike and foot patrols. But he said it’s difficult for those officers to respond to crime scenes that are miles away from their current location.

“Everyone wants to see bike patrols, but when you do that, you leave another slot open,” Muschal said. “And if they’re out walking and not with their car, they can’t respond to a call that’s 20 blocks away; they’ll have to run back to their car. There’s a lot of things that I’d like to see come back, but the manpower is not there.”

This year’s homicide toll is now 29.

Police have not said whether any arrests have been made in connection with Burke’s murder, nor have they disclosed a motive for the killing.

Anyone with information about the murder is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at 609-989-6406. Or, call the Trenton police confidential tip line at 609-989-3663.

Tipsters may also call the Trenton Crime Stoppers tip line at 609-278-8477. Those wishing to text a tip can send a message labeled TCSTIPS to Trenton Crime Stoppers at 274637.

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