IRVINGTON, NJ — Four years ago, then-Mayor Wayne Smith noted the annual “summer spike” in crime that urban municipalities such as Irvington experience, once the weather gets warm and public schools close for summer break.
At that time, the town had one of the worst homicide rates ever, one which reached a tragic climax with the shooting death of Irvington Mini Market owner Narendrak Patel, 52, of Parsippany, on Myrtle Avenue on Sunday, June 19, 2013. Four years later, on Thursday, June 22, acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced an Essex County jury had convicted Ivery Brinson, 29, of Newark, of aggravated manslaughter in Patel’s death.
According to Laurino, in addition to aggravated manslaughter Brinson was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, felony murder, conspiracy to commit carjacking, carjacking, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, following a trial before Superior Court Judge John Zunic. The case was tried by assistant prosecutors Purva Deshpande and Anthony Scibetta.
“This was a horrid crime committed against a hardworking business owner,” said Deshpande on Thursday, June 22. “It is our hope that the guilty verdict will bring a measure of comfort to the Patel family.”
The Patel family could not be reached for comment. There were 16 homicides in town that year, including Patel’s.
According to Deshpande, on June 19, 2013, Brinson, his two brothers and a cousin entered the Irvington Mini Market at 130 Myrtle Ave. in Irvington.
“The defendant pointed a handgun at the victim and announced a robbery, saying, ‘You know what it is,’” Deshpande said. “Mr. Patel pulled out a wooden stick. Before he could do anything with the stick, the defendant fired three times and struck the victim one time in the torso. The four males then robbed the cash register and left the store. As they ran off, they saw a 74-year-old man parking in the driveway. The defendant pointed the gun at that man and carjacked him. The four men entered the car and drove it the Bradley Court Housing Complex in Newark, where they abandoned the vehicle.”
Deshpande said the three co-defendants have all entered pleas and are awaiting sentencing. The co-defendants, all from Newark, are Shakil Brinson, 25, Deion Brinson, 21, and Carnell Colbert, 26.
Sentencing for Ivery Brinson is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 3. He faces life in prison. Brinson was previously convicted of reckless manslaughter in 2009.
When Mayor Tony Vauss was sworn into office in 2014, he vowed to take a proactive approach to policing that would take into account law enforcement’s foreknowledge and awareness of the annual summer crime spike in order to offset or prevent it. Together with Public Safety Director Tracey Bowers and Public Safety Department employee Joseph Santiago, the mayor crafted a summer plan that went into effect during his first year in office and has become a tradition in town, partly due to Patel’s death.
Bowers said he’s glad that Brinson the others are being punished for Patel’s death.
“It’s a win-win for all citizens when criminals who commit crimes are taken off the street,” said Bowers on Monday, July 3. “Our summer plan has been in effect since June 1. We are looking to repeat the success of last year’s plan that resulted in a historic crime reduction in 2016.”
Vauss said his administration if still focused on making Irvington cleaner and safer.
“Community policing, recreation; everything ties into not just the law enforcement aspect, but being out there, being more involved with the community and communicating with the community,” said Vauss on Monday, May 29. “We have our bike patrols, where we ride through the community, so people can see us, so we can see them, so we can communicate. These are the type of things that I believe can help bring this township back to the way that I know it can be, so that’s what we’re working on currently.
“It won’t happen overnight. But we have to really start with first changing the mindset of the people who live here that this is our community. We have to protect it. We have to make sure it’s clean, we have to make sure it’s safe together. The mayor can’t do that; council members can’t do that; none of the senators or Assembly people can do that; only the people and the residents of the community can do that.”