NEWARK - Police in Newark are on the hunt for the man who fired a gun at the annual "Blessing of the Bikes" event, killing a 15-year-old boy and injuring three others.
The shooting happened at around 7:45 p.m. Sunday on 19th Avenue in the South Ward. Witnesses tell News 12 New Jersey that the shooter was riding a four-wheeled ATV. He started spinning and doing donuts, filling the air with smoke. He then stopped and fired off his gun, according to the witnesses.
Al-Shakeen Woodson, 15, was hit three times by the gunfire. He later died at University Hospital. Three other men were hit and were treated at area hospitals. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.
Family and friends gathered by a memorial for the teen Monday afternoon to mourn his loss. Woodson played football for the Brick City Lions, a youth league that made it to the national tournament last year.
His mother was inconsolable while visiting the memorial.
"Whoever did this, I just want you to turn yourself in, because [my son] wasn't a bad kid," said mother Sherkimea Zigler.
Mayor Ras Baraka has said police never signed off on the bike event but that a permit was handed out by the city. However, over 1,000 people showed up to the event and there were not enough police scheduled for that type of crowd.
"Never again will a permit be issued in the city to have an event of that scale without the mayor's approval," he said.
"The Blessing of the Bikes" has been hosted by the Newark Knights Motorcycle Club since 1976. They did not wish to comment on the shooting. Other bikers and even the victim's family do not blame the event for what happened.
"It's not the bike fest's fault. It's not the mayor's fault. It's not anyone's fault but the person who was behind the gun," said Tanika Zigler, Woodson's aunt.
Members of several bike clubs gathered in East Orange Monday night to denounce violence and send their condolences to the family.
Police are hoping the public can help to identify the shooter.
"Right now, there is no motive for the shooting. There are no suspects," said Chief Anthony Ambrose, of the Essex County Prosecutor's office.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Major Crimes Task Force at 877-847-7432 or 973-621-4586.