9-year-old girl is shot dead during brawl in Trenton, NJ courtyard
TRENTON — An innocent 9-year-old girl is the latest homicide victim in the state's capital city after a brawl escalated into a shooting Friday night.
The shooting was reported in the courtyard of the Kingsbury Square affordable housing towers near Cooper Street — just steps away from the county courthouse and state justice building.
The girl who got caught in the line of fire was identified as a fourth-grade student at Parker Elementary School, although her name had not been officially released Saturday afternoon.
Her mother poured her grief online and asked the public to help.
"My baby didn't deserve this [...] And if y'all know who that man is that killed my baby I need y'all to really speak up," she pleaded.
"Please, she was life, she was everything and she got robbed of that because of some petty ass argument. Please help my baby find rest."
Police had been called to the area at 7:30 p.m. on a report of a fistfight. Officials said private security officers were on the grounds at the time of the shooting.
Gunfire, however, ensued — the sound of which was recorded by the city's ShotSpotter system.
No suspects have been identified or arrested.
Authorities are now asking for the public's help in bringing the perpetrators to justice — a request complicated by the fact that authorities continue to work to engender cooperation between police and an embattled urban community.
"This horrific incident has taken the life of a child," Mayor Reed Gusciora said Saturday in a plea to the public.
"There were many eyewitnesses to the shooting who can help hold this individual accountable. Please, we must step up together. I'm grieving for the family and friends whose hearts are absolutely broken on this morning. I know investigators are doing everything they can to bring about justice. But they need help from our residents."
During a news conference on Saturday afternoon, Police Director Steve Wilson said not having enough witnesses cooperate is "extremely frustrating" because police might otherwise be able to stem some of the violence.
"This is why we have our community outreach programs. This is why we are trying to mend the fence between the community and police department to reinstall that trust," Wilson said.