Hours after a bodega owner was killed during a robbery, City Council President Frank Moran called for a state of emergency to be declared in Camden to rescue the city.
"We are currently a city under siege. We are under siege by criminals. We are under siege by the drug activity. And more, we're under siege by murderers," Moran said today at a news conference in front of Bernard Grocery in the Cramer Hill section, the site of Monday's homicide.
The killing was the 48th homicides this year. There were 37 homicides this time last year. Other crimes also have spiked, including rapes, robberies and arson, and city officials blame the surge on a budget crunch that forced severe police cutbacks.
Monday night's incident left Miguel Almonte, 48, dead and three other people wounded. Authorities said Almonte was pronounced dead inside his bodega at 27th Street and Pierce Avenue in the Cramer Hill section following the 8:30 p.m. shooting.
Authorities have yet to provide details of the other victims or the crime itself. The Camden County Prosecutor's Office said it would release more information later in the day.
Moran said he would introduce a resolution at the council's caucus tonight encouraging Mayor Dana L. Redd to call for a state of emergency, in hopes of prompting state assistance.
"We've been the first in many things. The first in crime. The first city in poverty. We want to be the first city that the governor of the state of New Jersey sends the national guard to patrol our streets," Moran said.
Redd would not say if she endorsed Moran's move, but said she had spoken to Attorney General Paula Dow Monday night and appealed for additional resources.
"We're looking for manpower," Redd said. She declined to offer details of her conversation with Dow.
Facing a $26 million budget shortfall, the city laid off 168 officers - nearly half of its department in January. So far, 99 officers have been rehired through various grants.
The department's current numbers hover around 215 officers, including officers who are injured or not available to work, union officials said.
Monday's bloodshed followed a weekend during which one man was killed and five people were wounded in separate shootings in the city. The weekend slaying victim was identified as Jawan Gideon, 19, of the Ablett Village Apartments.
Officials said he was found shot in the head on the 1100 block of Sheridan Street about 5:50 p.m. Sunday and died a short time later at Cooper University Hospital.