Two men murdered overnight in Trenton

Police guarded this home in the first block of Cummings Avenue were a man was shot and killed. June 24, 2015 (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Police guard this home in the first block of Cummings Avenue were a man was shot and killed. June 24, 2015 (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

It seems as if violence in the city never takes a vacation — not even during the summer months.

Two men were murdered in Trenton this week bringing this year’s homicide count to double digits.

“We can’t continue to have vicious cycles,” City Council President Zachary Chester said. “We have to find solutions and make life better for everyone. We need everyone to come together to solve these problems.”

Tuesday night, just before midnight, police were dispatched to the first block of Ellsworth Avenue where they found 22-year-old Edwin Saddler suffering from multiple stab wounds. Saddler died several hours later at Capital Health Regional Medical Center.

Then, around 12:11 a.m. Wednesday, police were dispatched to the first block of Cummings Avenue where they found 29-year-old Harvey Sharp suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Sharp, whose birthday was Wednesday, also died at the hospital.

On Wednesday morning, police prevented people from entering a home on Cummings Avenue where the shooting occurred. A woman who claimed to live in that home said she didn’t know whether the shooting happened inside the house, and she refused to say whether she was related to Sharp. Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said the shooting occurred on the front porch of that home, and that it was the result of a “petty argument.” A woman who was in the area Wednesday morning said the first block of Cummings Avenue is normally a quiet neighborhood, and that people who live there usually keep to themselves. The woman said she was upstairs in her home when the shooting occurred, and that she heard at least two gunshots.

“There are other ways to deal with conflict,” Councilman Chester said. “We can’t solve problems by taking someone’s life; that should not be the solution.”

So far this year, 11 people have been killed in Trenton, which includes the arson death of Alberto Moya-Cuevas and the death of John Covington, who was fatally struck by a vehicle as he crossed the street pushing a shopping cart.

“Violence is the product of spiritual, social, economic and political contradictions,” Reverend Lukata Mjumbe said. “Those contradictions are not only destructive to the lives of those who were killed, but it’s destructive to the perpetrator of the crime and to the community that is directly impacted by the violence.”

Mjumbe, Evangelist and Executive Director of Urban Mission Cabinet Inc., said he is convinced the solutions to preventing violence lie within each community. He and other faith-based leaders are committed to working with citizens to identify the root causes of violence in Trenton. Earlier this month, Mjumbe and about 25 other people spent three hours walking up and down St. Joes Avenue talking to residents about crime. Mjumbe said they intentionally walked the streets between midnight and 3 a.m. because two recent homicide victims were killed during that time span.

“We heard a lot of different things from citizens,” Mjumbe said. “There are some people who recognize that there’s an economic dimension to violence based upon the perception, or reality, of lack of opportunities. Other people identified rivalries between different groups in the community as a source of the violence. And others acknowledge a deep sense of spiritual hopelessness within some residents in the city. There are people without hope who do not feel as if they have constructive and productive options. We’re self-destructing and it’s critical that all of us come together and start listening to people who are living in these communities that are being destroyed. That’s where the answers and solutions are going to come from.”

Councilman Chester said he believes crime and violence in the capital city can be reduced by providing young people with more employment opportunities, which will keep them off of the streets at night and provide something positive to build upon. Chester said he and his fellow council members are working to obtain funding for job training so city residents will be qualified for jobs coming into Trenton through the mayor’s economic redevelopment plan. Chester also said city officials need to find a way to educate young residents on positive conflict resolution techniques.

“I charge organizations in the city that deal with conflict resolution to come to council and the administration and let’s find a way to deal with violence,” Chester said. “Taking a life cannot be the solution.”

Anyone with information about the murder of Saddler or Sharp is asked to call (609) 989-6406. Or use the Trenton Police confidential tip line at (609) 989-3663. Individuals may also call the Trenton Crime Stoppers tip line at (609) 278-8477. Those wishing to text a tip can send a message labeledTCSTIPS to Trenton Crime Stoppers at 274637.

“Nothing is more unsettling to me than when our residents are murdered,” Mayor Eric Jackson said. “Make no mistake, the Trenton Police Department is working with the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and will apply every available resource to find those responsible and bring them to justice.”

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