Two days, two dead

Police investigate a shooting in the area of Chambers Street and Walnut Avenue on Jan. 9, 2016. (Scott Ketterer- The Trentonian)

Police investigate a shooting in the area of Chambers Street and Walnut Avenue on Jan. 9, 2016. (Scott Ketterer- The Trentonian)

On New Year’s Eve, Shawntay Ross posted a meme on his Facebook page that said, “2016 will be a selfish year. My time will be invested on me. On improving myself. I want to become a better person physically and mentally.”

Nine days later, 39-year-old Ross was gunned down near the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Chambers Street. He died Sunday afternoon.

There’s nothing negative anyone can say about him,” Marie “Murf” Antionette, who has known Ross since they were teenagers, said. “Coming from this environment in which we were all raised, yes, he was incarcerated for a short period of time. But he didn’t bother anyone…not a single soul. He opened the door for his elders, he wouldn’t curse around his elders, and he wouldn’t smoke around his elders. He was trying to instill respectability in our youth.”

Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity say Ross seemed to be nervous on Saturday afternoon. But no one knows whether he was actually worried about something, or if that’s just how things appeared.

Police sources say Ross was not a major player in the drug game, and that he was not on law enforcement’s radar of people to watch.

Shawntay Ross (contributed photo)

Shawntay Ross (contributed photo)

“The streets talk and I haven’t heard his name brought up in any of the typical things that would result in someone’s murder,” Antionette said. “I haven’t heard anything about him being gang affiliated, having a gambling problem, or anything like that.”

“He was a good dude and a good dad,” one of Ross’ nephews said. “He liked to make everybody happy, and he was real calm-headed. It’s sad that it happened to somebody like that.”

Ross was the second person to be killed in the capital city this weekend. Jovan Marino, 24, was shot on Friday night and died at the hospital the following day.

Although there are some months in which Trenton does not experience a homicide, it seems as if the capital city can’t get through the month of January without a murder. Dating back to 2012, at least one person has been killed within the first 31 days of each new year.

“I hope that we as a council body can come together and pay attention to these trends,” Councilwoman Phyllis Holly-Ward said Sunday afternoon. “And we really have to pay attention to the West Ward. It was once considered one of Trenton’s premier neighborhoods, and these murders are starting to add up.”

Ross’ murder happened in the city’s East Ward. Marino was killed in the West Ward.

Last year, six of the city’s homicides occurred in the West Ward, and only the North Ward experienced more killings.

“If we begin to let our best neighborhoods go, we’re done,” the councilwoman said, adding that she’s concerned about the entire city. “I have an investment in every area of the city. I either own a business, a home, or I live in each of the city’s wards.”

The councilwoman also said the city’s murders concern her on a personal level because she’s had some type of connection to about 50 percent of the victims.

“Some of them I don’t know immediately by name, but later I’ll find out that I either tutored the victim, or they were in my home with my sons at some point,” Holly-Ward said. “That’s the thing about being born and raised in Trenton, you always have some kind of connection to the violence. It’s alarming.”

Ross and Marino’s deaths are the result of a violent weekend that sent several other people to the hospital with gunshot wounds.

No arrests have been made in connection with either of this year’s homicides. Anyone with information about the killings 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.

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