ORANGE, NJ — Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura and the Crime Stoppers program are offering up to $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the quadruple shooting that resulted into two homicides at a residence on Cleveland Street in Orange on Thursday, Nov. 3.
“Yesterday afternoon, shortly after 3 p.m., four people were shot in the 200 block of Cleveland Street in Orange,” said acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray in a press release Friday, Nov. 4. “Marcus Milien, a 21-month-old baby boy, was shot and killed. He was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. His 21-year-old uncle, Morlens Milice, was also fatally shot. He was pronounced dead at 4:07 p.m. at East Orange General Hospital.”
Murray said the boy’s father, whose name has not been released, was one of the two survivors of the shooting, adding he remains hospitalized “in stable condition.” She said the fourth victim, a 15-year-old male, was sitting on the front porch of 234 Cleveland St., along with the other three victims, when the incident occurred.
“He sustained non-life-threatening injuries,” said Murray. “He was treated and released. The preliminary investigation indicates that the victims were sitting on the front porch of a two-family home when a gunman walked up to the porch and opened fire on the group. The victims attempted to run inside the house. At that point, the shooter fled.”
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force is leading the investigation into the shootings. According to Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly, a burning Audi was found in the area some time after the shooting, but he specific model of the suspected vehicle was not available by press time this week.
“The vehicle had been torched,” said Fennelly on Friday, Nov. 4. “Investigators are trying to determine what role, if any, the vehicle played in the homicide. At this time, no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made. The investigation remains active and ongoing.”
“Today, we suffered tragic losses due to gun violence in our community,” Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren said in an email blast to city residents on Thursday, Nov. 3. “We lost two lives today in Orange due to senseless violence, which is all too common across our nation. My heart goes out to the families of the victims involved in this tragedy.”
Due to the ongoing investigation, Warren referred all questions to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, but he did have a few words regarding his administration’s attempts to address public safety issues in Orange since he first took office almost five years ago.
“We have to find a way to end gun violence in our communities,” Warren said. “To prevent future tragedies in our city, we must become better neighbors and do something when we notice that something is not right in our neighborhood. Are we our brother’s keeper? Yes we are. We are also our neighbor’s keeper.”
Warren went on to state that the Orange administration and its Police Department, under the direction of his brother, police Director Todd Warren, is “working hard to equip residents with public safety tools, such as the new Orange Tip Line, to allow you to help law enforcement in a safe, confidential manner.” He added that “community improvement teams” had been established across the city “to assist in keeping Orange families safe.”
“Finally, nothing is more important than good old-fashioned block watch activities where each one can teach one to be our neighbor’s keeper,” said the mayor. “I am calling for unity and for all of us to extend ourselves to improve the quality of life in our city. It’s up to all of us to continue moving Orange forward.”
City Council President Donna Williams said she did not visit the crime scene on Cleveland Street because “I’ve seen too much of this kind of stuff involving our babies” in recent years. She agreed with the mayor that enough is enough and something needs to be done immediately to address the city’s obvious public safety needs.
The council recently voted unanimously to approve Resolution No. 332-2016, authorizing ratification of the Warren administration’s collective bargaining agreement between the city of Orange Township and the Orange Police Department Police Benevolent Association Local 89, at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18. This brought an end to the PBA Local 89 contract negotiations that had dragged on for seven years, dating back to Mayor Warren’s predecessor, Mayor Eldridge Hawkins Jr.
Williams said settling the contracts with the police unions was a good thing, but more has to be done to remedy the public safety issues the mayor inherited.
“No shooting is any worse than another, but … bullets have no name,” Williams said Friday, Nov. 4. “So we know — if we don’t know anything else — that this 2-year-old was not beefing with anybody. So this bullet was not meant for him. And how he caught this bullet, words just cannot say.”
The Rev. Bill Rutherford Jr., pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Orange, located across the street from Orange Police Headquarters, has been at the forefront of the local Not Orange anti-violence movement that sprang to life in the aftermath of the shooting death of Malcolm Bagley almost five years ago.
“We have a problem with violence; we have a problem with crime and, if we’re going to fix that, then we’ve got to be serious about doing the work, before kids or adults choose violence or choose crime,” said Rutherford on Friday, Nov. 4. “This is a new low and this is heartbreaking. I didn’t get much sleep last night. I get a little emotional. I got kids, too. These kids deserve to be safe at home. Now there’s a 2-year-old murdered in his own home. … If you’re going to shoot somebody, even if they don’t die, you deserve to be in jail. That’s where you belong. Jail is not for guys that get caught smoking weed on the corner. So my prayer and my hope is that these young men are brought to justice.”