On Saturday, a late-night shooting in New Jersey left two people dead and at least a dozen others injured. The event started as a 1990s-themed birthday party. The sprawling front lawn of a home in Fairfield Township owned by the aunt and uncle of a man celebrating his 32nd birthday was lined with tents and food.
The shooting in New Jersey started after midnight
Hundreds of people attended the house party, which started on Saturday afternoon. The mood was festive, neighbors said, with temperatures in the 80s and COVID-19 limits finally relaxing. Then, shortly before midnight, bullets rang out, sending guests running for cover under cars, according to John Fuqua, whose cousin was shot in the stomach and treated at a hospital in Camden, NJ, about 30 miles away. He said that several guests frantically performed CPR on friends.
According to state police, a 30-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman died at the scene from gunshot wounds, and most of the other people suffered life-threatening injuries. Some critically wounded patients were airlifted to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, while others were transported in ambulances and private cars to two other local trauma centers.
As of Sunday afternoon, no arrests had been made, said a spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police, who is heading the probe. Nearly everyone in the tiny township met someone who was in attendance, according to Melissa Helmbrecht, the founder and chief executive of Hopeloft, a charitable group that operates services for children and families about a mile from the shooting site.
On Sunday, she said she spoke with people whose family members had been wounded in the violence. She described the situation as "chaos." "People were attempting to get to the hospital. People began to disperse," New York Times reported.
Helmbrecht said city officials had met many times recently to discuss an increase in gun violence in Cumberland County. The State Police has not yet released the names of the two people killed at the gathering.
Anyone with questions about the shooting is encouraged to contact the county prosecutor's office. Fairfield, a township of around 6,000 people, is located just outside of Bridgeton, a region afflicted with crime and poverty.
In a statement, prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McCrea said, "When anything like this occurs, it affects our whole society. When gun crime wreaks havoc on our sense of safety and stability, everyone loses."
Search for the suspect in NJ house party shooting continues
A manhunt was launched Sunday for the gunman of the New Jersey mass house party shooting. Police patrolled the perimeter of the sprawling property with dogs on Sunday. Metal detectors were used to sweep the front yard. Officers attempted to unlock locked vehicles in the driveway of the home, as per USA Today.
Mayor Benjamin Byrd of Fairfield Township was on the scene, where tents and chairs were scattered around the yard. Byrd said he did not know much about the shooting.
According to Fuqua, family members were at the party, and his nephew had to flee for cover when gunshots rang out from the woods. "All of a sudden, all he heard was shooting, and he was running for his life," Fuqua told NBC10. "He collapsed to the ground. After stepping over a dead body, he had to crawl."
Aerial views of the scene revealed a huge, tree-shrouded house surrounded by debris. The event was characterized as a "horrible mass shooting" by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who said the party drew hundreds of people.
It was uncertain who fired the shots or why, and no arrests were made right away. Anyone with tips should call the New Jersey State Police Bridgeton Station at 856-451-0101 or leave a tip on the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office tip website.