Two charged in Newark drive-by shootings

October 27, 2008 4:03:43 PM PDT
Authorities on Monday charged two reputed gang members with murder in connection with the slayings of two people during a shooting spree last Friday. Newark residents Scott Banks and Nashon Brown, both 20, were charged with murder, conspiracy and weapons offenses. Both men were being held in Essex County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail and were scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

It was not immediately known if they had retained lawyers.

"These were not random, drive-by shootings. These were targeted shootings in which individuals were seeking out other individuals for assassination," Mayor Cory A. Booker said.

Killed in the separate attacks Friday afternoon were 22-year-old Quadir Burroughs and 24-year-old Angelina Evans. Authorities did not say why the two victims were targeted or whether they were affiliated with gangs, but said a gang element was present in the shootings.

"There are strong drug and gang overtones to these events," McCarthy said.

Authorities described a string of shootings that occurred in a span of barely more than 30 minutes in four locations within about a mile of each other.

The first, at 2:15 p.m., occurred at the crime-plagued Seth Boyden housing project and resulted in no injuries. Driving a white Infiniti FX SUV, police claim the pair drove about a mile away and killed Burroughs as he stood outside.

Shots were reported some five minutes later about eight blocks away, where a 27-year-old man was shot in the elbow. Evans was then shot and killed a few minutes later, on the other side of a housing complex from where Burroughs was shot.

The Infiniti, which had been stolen in Elizabeth on Thursday, was recovered in a mall parking lot in Elizabeth Saturday morning.

Banks and Brown were arrested early Saturday morning at homes in Newark and initially charged with aggravated assault. Those charges were upgraded Saturday night. Weapons were recovered at those locations, according to Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow.

Police said ballistics evidence from the crime scenes and surveillance evidence from the city's network of cameras in the area of the shootings helped lead them to the two men.

Dow said Brown was serving three years' probation for a 2007 conviction for narcotics possession and eluding, and had a municipal court conviction for marijuana possession. Banks had an outstanding warrant for a parole violation, she said.

Several other shootings that occurred in the city on Friday, including one that seriously wounded a 16-year-old boy, are believed to be unrelated.

Booker denied reports that the shootings were symptoms of a heightened drug war in Newark between rival gangs.

"There have been so many exaggerations the last four days," Booker said. "The idea that there's a large drug war going on in Newark is entirely false."

The slayings of Burroughs and Evans brought Newark's homicide total to 52 for 2008, well behind last year's total of 83 over the same period.

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