East Orange suffers its third homicide of 2018

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange suffered another homicide, two weeks after the shooting death of STEM Academy teacher Kofi Owens on 16th Street on Friday, Aug. 3.

On Friday, Aug. 17, acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino and East Orange Police Chief Phyllis Bindi announced the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide-Major Crimes Task Force is investigating the murder of Tarlok Singh, a 55-year-old employee of the Park Deli Grocery, located on North Park Street in East Orange.

“The victim was pronounced dead at the scene yesterday morning,” said Laurino on Friday, Aug. 17. “The regional medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. No arrests have been made. The investigation is active and ongoing.”

Singh’s death brings the official number of East Orange homicides this year to three, including delivery man Karamoko Fatiga, who was shot and killed Monday, April 2, by a local juvenile; and Owens, who was 45.

Mayor Ted Green and former Public Safety Director Sheilah Coley praised law enforcement officers for solving the Fatiga case. “They pulled their resources together and did everything they had to do, in terms of their intelligence,” said Green on Thursday, April 19, at the press conference announcing the teen’s arrest. “They did an excellent job.”

“Wherever it is that you think that you can commit a crime, just know that, some way, we will be able to find you,” warned Coley on Thursday, April 19.

Coley resigned from the East Orange Public Safety Department on Tuesday, May 29, and, after an extended search for her successor, former police Director Jose Cordero was name the city’s new public safety consultant at a press conference on Thursday, July 19. The mayor said he brought Cordero back to East Orange to recapture the public’s confidence.

“He’s been a part of all that we have done, when it comes to public safety, and many of the things that you have seen over the last 15 years, he has orchestrated,” said Green on Thursday, July 19. “On Cordero’s watch, we saw a number of record-breaking reductions in murders, rapes, robberies and other violent crimes. Since Joe left, we have been fortunate to see his legacy continue. To date, we have an 18-percent drop in overall crime, 31-percent drop in violent crime, and 41-percent drop in homicides to date.”

When Owens was killed, Green vowed to do everything he could to bring his killer to justice. On Tuesday, Aug. 7, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura and his Crime Stoppers program offered a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Owens’ death.

“At approximately 1 a.m. today, Kofi A. Owens, 45, of Newark was fatally shot on South 16th Street in East Orange,” said Laurino on Friday, Aug. 3. “Owens was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:18 a.m. A second man was also shot, but survived. He is in stable condition. His name is not being released at this time. The investigation is active and ongoing. No arrests have been made at this time.”

Green also spoke at the Tuesday, Aug. 7 candlelight vigil for the slain teacher about the need for the entire East Orange community to work with law enforcement to bring Owens’ killer or killers to justice.

“My presence here tonight as mayor is for my support and also to send my condolences,” said Green on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the candlelight vigil. “But it’s also to send a strong message as the mayor of the city of East Orange that I am not going to tolerate this type of violence in the city of East Orange and I am going to be taking strong measures to make sure that an incident like this will not happen again. We’re not tolerating this anymore.”

“We’ve got strong coalitions from Newark, Irvington, East Orange and Orange,” said Green. “We are locking arms together, because what affects East Orange affects Newark, Irvington, Orange, all over, especially in the urban communities. We’ve got to do everything we can, to make sure that we stop the violence here in our communities.”

Singh’s recent death, however, has left many questioning what will be done to stem the epidemic of gun violence in East Orange.

“We are driving public safety in this community. We are making sure that people can live here, sleep here and dine here,” Green said. “When we lose one life, we are all touched by it. So right now, we’re going to find other ways to work with our police department, work with other agencies, work with other law enforcement to make sure that we bring justice to a tragedy, such as what happened to Mr. Owens. Let’s extend our hands to his family and this community, but also, we are the caretakers of this community and we’ve got to come together as men, as strong men in our community, to not let things like this happen.”

Green also said People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Larry Hamm’s pleas for the teacher’s murderer to turn themself in, and the message of solidarity from Bashir Akinyele of the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition is meant for everyone in the East Orange community.

“All of us play a role and many of us in the community have to sit down with our kids, sit down with your neighbors’ kids, sit down with yourself and let’s start talking about violence in our community. If we can come together as we did tonight for the legacy of Brother Owens, then we can come together with those folks in our community who think that they can do things like this and get away with it. We need to come together and send a strong message that we’re not tolerating it,” Green said.