Store clerk shot during robbery in Newark

December 3, 2009 2:59:05 PM PST
Investigators are looking hard for the killer of a grocery store clerk in Newark. While we were there, police surrounded a van and questioned its driver. It's just one part of the massive hunt for the person who shot and killed the grocery store clerk.

Police are stationed in the area and crime stopper posters are up everywhere.

Police say Daniel Lews was working at the D&J Variety Store at 404 Hawthorne Avenue when a suspect entered shortly after 7 p.m. and announced a robbery.

The robbery ended with the clerk being shot once in the chest.

Lewis, 50, died on the sidewalk just one block away from Mayor Cory Booker's house.

"I was not pleased about it, but my response was, unfortunately, these things can happen in a variety of different places," Booker said.

In fact, Police Director Gary McCarthy says Mayor Booker moved here specifically because it was a tough neighborhood and he was serious about cutting crime in his city.

It has been working.

The shooting rate is down by 51 percent over the last three years. The murder rate is up a bit this year, but still down over the last three years.

"Many of these murders are just outright assassinations. It's not John Q. Public getting shot like unfortunately last night," McCarthy said.

But the mayor's neighborhood has had a tough time as of late. Last Saturday another murder happened out in front of another grocery store, just 2 blocks away.

I went to talk to the owner. He told me has been robbed twice this year, but he wouldn't go on camera. He says nobody in this neighborhood will because they are all too scared.

And he's right.

The owner of the store who watched as her employee was gunned down wouldn't go on camera either.

Police told Eyewitness News they do have surveillance video and they are enhancing it as we speak.

With the struggle and murder happening out in front of the store, they may just have the evidence they need to catch the killer.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Department's 24-hour CrimeStoppers anonymous tip line at 877-NWK-TIPS or 877-NWK-GUNS. Tips leading to arrests and indictments could result in cash rewards of up to $2,000.