East Ward Councilwoman on Trenton’s gun violence: “There’s a better way”

Law enforcement investigate a murder in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue. January 20, 2016. (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Law enforcement investigate a murder in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue. January 20, 2016. (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Last October, SAGE Coalition aimed to uplift the community and inspire East Ward residents by painting murals on various abandoned properties located in a portion of the city’s Wilbur Section.

That inspiration was shattered Wednesday night when 21-year-old Tyquise Timmons was gunned down while on a porch in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue.

Witnesses say they heard about eight gunshots, and several crime scene evidence placards littered the street and sidewalk outside of the home from where Timmons was removed. Police have not confirmed how many times Timmons was shot, but sources say he was struck at least once in the head.

Just before police removed the body bag off of the porch, law enforcement officers noticed media personnel standing nearby and turned off the street lighting. It was a gesture of compassion for Timmons’ family, his friends and the deceased himself.

“The last few months on that block has been pretty hectic,” SAGE Coalition artist Will “Kasso” Condry said Thursday morning. “I offer my condolences to his family, and hopefully this violence can stop before there’s any more deaths.”

As crime scene investigators placed Timmons’ body onto a gurney and wheeled him to a coroner’s truck to be taken to the morgue, bystanders expressed their grief.

Tyquise Timmons

Tyquise Timmons

“No,” an older man emphatically yelled, as if he has seen too many young people die.

“Bae,” a woman yelled, as she walked away to call a loved one and tell them the horrible news.

And another woman yelled out, “Soon there won’t be anyone left.”

Walnut Avenue and its surrounding streets comprise a neighborhood that has experienced too many tragic deaths. In fact, the makeshift memorial for Tina Anderson, who died by vehicular homicide on Southard Street last year, rests a few hundred feet from where Wednesday’s murder took place. City rapper Unkle Lord, also known as Davae Dickson, was shot and killed in that neighborhood last September. And Shawntay Ross was murdered near the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Chambers Street earlier this month.

“A lot of the violence that happens in that neighborhood is not caused by the people who live there,” East Ward Councilwoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson said. “A lot of people who live on that block are innocent victims at times.”

The councilwoman, who has lived in Trenton since she was a preschooler, said she regularly speaks with citizens who live in the Wilbur Section, and that they seem dedicated to revitalizing the neighborhood by improving Jefferson Vincent Park — as well as surrounding areas — and increasing the amount of street lighting.

“There are people living up and down Walnut and Monmouth who care about the community and are saddened by the loss of young life,” Reynolds-Jackson said. “They want kids to be able to play outside safely.”

The councilwoman encourages residents throughout the city to report criminal activity to police or other community leaders. She also advises young people to find alternative ways to solve personal disputes.

Violence serves no purpose, and at the end of the day, everybody on both sides of the gun suffers,” Reynolds-Jackson said. “Shooting and killing each other is not the normal way of life. There’s a better way. And this attitude of not snitching is really what’s hurting us. People know who commits these crimes, and we have a plethora of ways for citizens to provide anonymous tips. The best thing we can do is report the violence.”

The councilwoman also hopes the city can soon provide more job opportunities that will encourage kids to earn a living through legitimate activities, as opposed to dealing drugs.

In August last year, Timmons was arrested during a police raid on East State Street that uncovered gun ammunition, marijuana, PCP and drug paraphernalia. Timmons was standing in front of the home that was raided, and at the time, he was wanted in connection with an outstanding warrant. Police apprehended Timmons in connection with the warrant, but he was not charged with a new drug offense.

Then, about a month later, Timmons was one of several people arrested by state police for drug offenses near the intersection of Walnut and Chambers.

Timmons’ untimely death marks the third murder to take place in the capital city this year, and no arrests have been made in connection with the case.

Anyone with information about the killing 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 labeledTCSTIPS to Trenton Crime Stoppers at 274637.

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