NJ house party shooting was a targeted act, says state AG

Authorities also ID the two people who were killed at the ill-fated 90s-themed bash.

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Asia Hester
Asia Hester, 25, was one of two people shot dead at an NJ house party
(Facebook)

It’s the morning after the night before and the senseless slaughter that took place at a weekend party in New Jersey looks as bad as it did in the immediate aftermath.

Fresh details emerged on Monday about the incident that left two people dead and many more injured, some seriously. The shooting, which took place in South Jersey on Saturday night, has shocked the entire state and drawn the fierce condemnation of Gov. Phil Murphy.

Authorities told a news conference that they are closing in on more of the shooters as they announced the arrest of one suspect. Kevin Dawkins, 36, was detained on Sunday and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of a large-capacity magazine, and related offenses.

While officials have so far kept mum on the motive for the extraordinary violence, they have said that they do not believe the shooting to be a random act.

NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal told the news conference that the shooting was a targeted act, according to a report on local channel Fox29.

Grewal identified the deceased victims as Kevin Elliot, 30, and Asia Hester, 25. Both were Bridgeton, New Jersey residents.

Authorities also said that they have recovered multiple firearms and shell casings from the scene and are working with federal officials to determine where the guns came from and whether they can be linked to other recent acts of violence in the area.

Gov. Murphy also weighed in on the shooting during the Monday press briefing:

“What we saw here in Fairfield is a microcosm of the scale of gun violence we see elsewhere, in other communities in our state and across the country,” Murphy said. “We are at the point where this kind of horrific scene is almost part of our daily lives. It has become commonplace. If there is one thing we can never normalize, it is senseless gun violence.”

Kevin Elliott, right, was the other victim shot dead at the party (Facebook)

Meanwhile, new details emerged on how the shooting unfolded and the possible motive for the targeted attack.

Some guests at the party in Fairfield Township suggested that deceased health worker Kevin Elliot was the target, according to a report in the New York Post.

The outlet further suggested that the shooting may have stemmed from two local rival factions of young men.

“It’s South Side young boys vs. North Side young boys,’’ a female guest who asked not to be identified told The Post.

“This has been going on since the ’60s, and now they’re getting crazier with it. They’re bringing guns.

“Usually, when they do that, they let off a couple [rounds], and that’s it,’’ the woman said. “But last night, they just kept going. People were running, falling. People were dying. It went on for 5, 10 minutes, running from bullets.”

Another guest at the party, identified as Sunshine Carter, 44, said the female homeowner who threw the bash is a “family-oriented woman” who was giving a 1990s-themed birthday bash for her nephew complete with a DJ, tents and security when shots rang out at the house across from a cemetery in the bucolic area.

A friend of one of the victims Kevin Elliott, who wished to remain anonymous, called his death “tragic.”

“He was a good kid who’d made his peace with life and had trouble with nobody. He showed up to a party to celebrate a happy occasion, and ended up dead. I can’t make sense of it,” the friend said.

Meanwhile, the sister of the other victim Asia Hester told the Post: “I talked to her yesterday before she went [to the party]. “She didn’t deserve this,’’ the sibling, whose name is Crystal, said.

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