April homicide bumps Orange’s total from one to two

ORANGE, NJ — The claim that Orange had no homicides this year until Thursday, Aug. 24, when Malcolm T. Ford, 24, of Orange, was killed on the 200 block of Scotland Road in Orange, has recently proven to be incorrect.

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino and Essex County Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura announced the Essex County Sheriff’s Crime Stoppers Program is offering as much as $5,000 for information leading to an arrest in connection with the April 14 murder of 17-year-old Davon Jones in Orange.

“Jones was fatally shot in Orange,” said Laurino. “At approximately 10 p.m., Jones and two other males were in the 100 block of Taylor Street, where he lives, when a light-colored SUV with multiple occupants drove up and began shooting at Jones and two other males. Three people were shot. Jones died from his injuries at University Hospital in Newark. The two others survived.”

On Wednesday, July 19, Orange had announced a record reduction in crime statistics and the start of new Orange Police Department Bike Patrol Unit in an email that said: “violent crime in Orange has drastically declined compared to this time in 2016” and “records show other instances of violent crime declining below 50 percent in the city.”

But the email did not mention the Jones homicide at all. That omission is relevant in light of how Orange anti-violence advocates such as the Rev. William Rutherford Jr. of Ebenezer Baptist Church have been touting the recent success of going eight straight months without a homicide.

“I did not know that,” said Rutherford on Tuesday, Sept. 19, when informed of the homicide in April. “I’ve been saying the same things — only one murder so far this year.”

City officials could not be reached for comment about this error in the number of homicides, but a former police chief said they should have already had this information before they made an incorrect statement.

“The mayor always gets a call right away,” said former Irvington Police Chief Michael Chase on Tuesday, Sept. 19. “The Prosecutor’s Office is the lead agency on all homicides that occur in the county. If you ever want to know the number of homicides in the county or a specific municipality, then you just do an (Open Public Record Act) request and they have to give it to you because it’s public information.”

There was no doubt about the second shooting that occurred Thursday, Sept. 24.

“Ford was fatally shot yesterday in the 200 block of Scotland Road in Orange,” said Laurino on Friday, Aug. 25. “He was transported to University Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead at 11:17 p.m. yesterday. The investigation is active and ongoing. No arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified.”

Around the same time, another unrelated shooting occurred in Orange.

According to Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly, on Thursday, Aug. 24, just before 5:30 p.m., a robbery was reported at the PNC Bank Branch at 410 Main St. in Orange. Police units responded, including detectives from the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, Fennelly said. Two Essex County detectives came upon the suspect and identified themselves as police officers. They ordered the suspect, who was armed with a gun, to stop, he said.

“The suspect did not obey, and one officer fired his weapon and struck the suspect,” said Fennelly on Thursday, Aug. 24. “The suspect was taken to University Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead. The weapon was recovered, along with the proceeds from the robbery.”

Fennelly did not say how much money the suspect made off with. County and local authorities initially did not release the bank robbery suspect’s name on Thursday, Aug. 24, because they wanted to contact his next of kin first. He was later identified as Scott Mayfield, 24, of East Orange.

According to Fontoura, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department detective who killed Mayfield in the line of duty was just doing his job, after he and a fellow detective had “rushed to assist local police when the robbery occurred.”

“They happened to be on the scene at the right time in the right place,” said Fontoura on Thursday, Aug. 24. “This is what we do as police officers. Sometimes, we are called to do things that we are not fond of, but we do what we need to do.”