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Newark killings continue to mount

Craig D. Frazier | 12/4/2014, 2:20 p.m.

Top officials in Newark want to curb violence after 11 people were shot over the weekend, according to reports. An East Orange man has been identified in a fatal shooting in the city’s Central Ward last week. Nafis Johnson, 34, was found unconscious on the sidewalk in the area of Avon Avenue and Stratford Place.

The murder marks the 84th of the year in Newark and the third in a series of what police say appears to be unrelated killings, two of which took place this weekend. On Sunday, one person was killed and two were wounded after a shooting in Newark’s West Ward, authorities said.

The victims, who have not been identified, were all found suffering from gunshot wounds in the 600 block of South 20th Street at around 7 p.m., according to a statement from Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray and Newark Police Director Eugene Venable.

Recently, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka asked the New Jersey Civil Service Commission for permission to demote six of its eight deputy chiefs in an effort to put 70 percent of the police force on neighborhood streets.

“What we’re going to do is bunker down in areas where we know crime is committed, and we’re going to improve those areas, then we’re going to move on to other areas in the city once we get those areas into a place where they become self-sufficient,” said Baraka.

The city is beefing up its police presence and has opened a new police precinct in the Central Ward to respond more quickly to crime.

“Today, we’re going to move through the community with the special forces that we have,” said Baraka.

No arrests have been made in any of the shootings.