Senseless gun violence in Paterson claims teenager

Craig D. Frazier | 10/2/2014, 4:08 p.m.

Senseless gun violence in New Jersey’s inner cities claimed another life last week. Nazerah “Bugg” Coleman, 14, a freshman basketball star at International High School, was leaving Mom’s Fried Chicken on the corner of Clinton and N. Main streets when shots rang out.

A 15-year-old girl was also injured in the shooting. She is in stable condition. Witnesses told police they heard six shots and called 911.

Paterson City Councilman Anthony Davis said authorities have released few details about the shooting, and the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office has the incident under investigation. “Nazerah appeared to be an innocent bystander caught in gunfire that erupted on the street,” he stated. “Members of the community were shocked by the violence and concerned about the safety of their children. I pray that we don’t get immune to these things. This is not normal. Now, we have another family that lost their daughter.”

Nazerah’s death sparked another wave of community anger and a demand to end gun violence in Paterson, where 500 people protested outside of City Hall after the July 5 shooting of Genesis Rincon.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and family,” said the city’s new police director, Jerry Speziale.

The Paterson Police Department had fewer than 400 officers on its payroll as of last month, about 100 fewer than were employed before a 2011 layoff of 125 officers. Mayor Joey Torres and City Council members are trying to increase police presence and implement curfews in high-crime areas.

Coleman was “like a little sister” to Melaysia Mayo, 15, who was part of the group of girls who were with Coleman at the time of the shooting.