Teenager murdered in Trenton Friday night
By Trentonian reporters Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman and Penny Ray
Serenity Garden at the corner of Prospect Street and Bellevue Avenue was recently established to represent a place of beauty, peace and healing.
But on Friday night, that blissful intersection became a crime scene as an armed perpetrator shot and killed a 16-year-old boy who was remembered on Saturday as “a good kid.”
Jah’vae Minney of South Logan Avenue, Trenton, was shot in the chest about 11 p.m. and taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center by a citizen. The teenager was pronounced dead shortly thereafter, according to police, who have neither arrested a suspect nor announced a description of the shooter as of Saturday afternoon.
“It is a shame that youth is getting caught up in the midst of the madness,” said Jason Rogers of Fathers and Men United for a Better Trenton as he stood Saturday morning on the landscape of Serenity Garden.
For Jah’vae to be gunned down in that area just a few hours earlier, “It had to be mistaken identity,” Rogers sad. “He was just on the bus stop.”
Jah’vae’s death marks the third homicide this week in Trenton.
Earlier this week, 22-year-old Edwin Saddler and 29-year-old Harvey Sharp were murdered during separate incidents that occurred within minutes of each other. So far this year, 12 people have been killed in this 7.5-square-mile capital city.
Jah’vae Minney was a member of a youth group at Shiloh Baptist Church and also liked to play basketball, according to people who knew him.
One of the people who played basketball with him was Gary Tarver, 26, who lived in the same neighborhood as the teenager.
Reacting to the news of the homicide, “It’s crazy,” Tarver said Saturday afternoon on South Logan Avenue. “He was a good kid. All he did was play ball. He was probably at the wrong place at the wrong time. … He was only 16.”
Several dozen people embarked upon Serenity Garden on Saturday morning for a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony that was already planned well before Jah’vae was gunned down in that area. The teenager’s death, however, nailed home the point for why Amini Sababu, 60, worked with Shiloh Community Development Corp. to establish that colorful, flower-filled garden in a city hard hit by violence.
“Serenity Garden is for people who lost loved ones to street violence,” Sababu said following the dedication ceremony that lasted about an hour. “We have people who come and sit at this garden and tell us they feel the peace; they feel the love.”
Jah’vae Minney isn’t the first teenager to be slain in the streets of Trenton. For example, police still have not solved the May 2008 shooting death of 17-year-old city female Shanel Brady, who was gunned down on the 500 block of West State Street.
“I’m paranoid to be in West Trenton, because they still haven’t found who killed my daughter,” said Angel Quattlebaum, 44, the mother of slain Shanel Brady.
Quattlebaum was at Saturday’s ribbon-cutting event at Serenity Garden. Speaking about the annual gunplay here that has claimed the lives of men, women and children, “It’s senseless,” Quattlebaum said. “The generation doesn’t have respect for life. They don’t have respect for God, because if you respect God, you respect life,” she said. “If you feel someone disrespected you, you don’t lash out.”
Rogers and Sababu expressed an optimism that Trenton could become a safer and more prosperous city.
“We don’t get discouraged,” Rogers said. “We just continue to pray.”
Sababu gave a remark that sounded much like President Barack Obama circa 2008: “We have to believe that change is possible,” she said.
Anyone with information about the murders is asked to call the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at (609) 989-6406 or contact 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 labeled TCSTIPS to Trenton Crime Stoppers at 274637.