Man murdered on Edgewood Avenue

A man was shot and killed on Edgewood Avenue. November 15, 2016 (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

A man was shot and killed on Edgewood Avenue. November 15, 2016 (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

The flashing red and blue lights and faint sounds of women sobbing signified another tragedy had struck the capital city.

Hakeim Blackshear, 27, was shot and killed early Tuesday morning in the 1400 block of Edgewood Avenue.

His body lay underneath a white sheet on the sidewalk outside of an apartment building while investigators placed crime scene placards next to potential evidence and knocked on doors searching for witnesses around 1 a.m.

Police scanners reported Blackshear was shot at least once in the head.

The 40-degree temperature couldn’t keep concerned citizens away as they rushed to the scene to confirm whether they knew the victim.

During the early stages of the investigation, police wouldn’t confirm Blackshear’s identity to the crowd. As an investigator asked onlookers to describe clothing worn by the person they suspected was killed, a woman cried out, “Where is he?”

Another woman said, “We just had him over earlier today.”

Other citizens could be heard whispering concerns about Blackshear’s children, whom are now left without a father.

“He took care of his kids, now what?” citizens asked.

Hakeim Blackshear

Hakeim Blackshear

Hakeim Blackshear is related to Bloods gang member Breon Blackshear, who was murdered during a spate of gang-related killings in December 2006.

City activist Darren “Freedom” Green said Tuesday he spoke to members of the Blackshear family, as well as close friends, whom are all heartbroken by the latest tragedy to strike the family.

“These young men are trained to be hard pieces of steel and I have to let them know it’s okay to cry,” Green said. “It’s okay to let your emotions out. It’s okay to be a human being.”

Green said he’s known Blackshear since meeting him at Emily Fisher Charter School, where Green was employed as an administrator several years ago before it closed in 2012.

“Emily Fisher serviced almost all of the kids who were kicked out of the other schools,” Green said. “For at least eight hours a day, we were able to provide an environment where they could learn and grow, and we also helped deal with their mental health issues. A lot of the murders we have on the streets today is because that school closed down. We had an afterschool program where they were given jobs to put a little money in their pocket. The biggest barrier in this city is mental health.”

Arguments regarding whether mental illness directly correlates with violent crime differ depending on which study one reads. But government statistics show that more than 1.2 million people with mental illness are incarcerated in jails or prisons, and that people with mental illnesses are on probation or parole two to four times more frequently than the general population.

Green does not know whether Blackshear or the suspect who killed him was diagnosed with mental health issues. But in general, he says, city and state officials must work together to help those who suffer from anger, anxiety and depression if they want to reduce the number of murders in the capital city.

“These kids are ticking timebombs because they don’t know how to deal with these issues,” Green said.

Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) echoed Green’s sentiments earlier this year in a previously unpublished interview with The Trentonian regarding this issue. In 2007, Turner introduced legislation that would establish a Mental Health Court in Mercer County. She said the bill never gained traction with other lawmakers for several different reasons. She plans to reintroduce a revised version of the bill in the near future, and she believes fellow lawmakers will support it.

“Drug Court has proven to be an overwhelming success in terms of rehabilitating people and saving taxpayers dollars,” Turner said. “I’ve realized that Mental Health Court would be the same kind of program. If you don’t treat people for mental illness and just lock them up, recidivism continues when they’re released.”

Green said he’s known a lot of the young people killed on Trenton streets from his days working as a shift commander at juvenile detention. He said most of Trenton youth involved in street life chose that route because they grew up with relatives who were in and out of jail and now believe incarceration is a common part of manhood.

“They believe this is part of their process of going through manhood,” Green said. “That doesn’t mean they’re bad individuals. They’ve seen fathers, uncles and friends go through that environment, so incarceration and street life has been normalized. When you’re born into poverty and you’re in a continuous state of survival, this is what happens. Most of these young men grow up seeing influence, power and economic development through criminal activity.”

So far this year, 22 people have been killed in the capital city, which includes the hit-and-run death of Edwardo Martinez, and the death of Alfred Toe who was shot by an off-duty cop during a struggle for a gun.

As of press time, no one has been arrested in connection with Blackshear’s death.

Anyone with information about the murder 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.

Police investigate a murder in the 1400 block of Edgewood Avenue. November 15, 2016 (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Police investigate a murder in the 1400 block of Edgewood Avenue. November 15, 2016 (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

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