Yesterday a group of gay community leaders in Newark, New Jersey sent a letter to Newark Mayor Cory Booker and other officials calling on the officialsÂ to investigate whether the execution-style murders of three college students, and the serious gun-relatedÂ injuries to aÂ fourth student,Â in NewarkÂ on August 5, 2007 were motivated by hate based on any of the victims' perceived sexual orientation http://www.washblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=14417. Â
The four young friends shot execution-style in a schoolyard just days before they were to head to college. According to the Newark police three were killed after being forced to kneel against a wall and then shot in the head at close range. A young woman was found slumped near some bleachers 30 feet away, a gunshot wound to the head but still alive. The four Newark residents were to attend Delaware State University this fall.
Sources say that the Newark mayor and other prominent black leaders in Newark may have known that some of the victims in this case were gay but withheld that information because, among other things, they felt it would be hurtful to the surviving families if word got out that their fallen relatives were gay. Other sources think the mayor, who was elected as a reform candidate pledging to clean up Newark's image as a crime-ridden city, felt uncomfortable delving into the sexual orientation of the victims because at least some in the black community view homosexuality as a negative characteristic.
There have been six arrests made in connection with the shootings. The first suspect, Jose Carranza, is an undocumented immigrant from Peru. He was under two indictments - 31 counts of sexually assaulting an 9-year-old and nine counts of assault stemming from a bar fight - when he was arrested for the murders. A second suspect, Melvin Jovel, 18, is a Honduran and officials say they are still not sure of his immigration status.Â Police also arrested 24-year-old Rodolfo Godinez, his 16-year-old half brother and two 15-year-old boys. Investigators suspect the murders may be gang related though the motive remains unclear.
Godinez who had been fighting extradition from Prince George's County, Maryland, is to appear before a judge in Upper Marlboro, Maryland today. He appeared before an attorney at the Maryland Secretary of State's Office in Annapolis on Thursday and said he would exercise his right to waive the hearings, said Capt. Joe Aiello of the Prince George's County Sheriff's Department.
If there is any evidence that these young people were targeted because of the perception or because they were lesbian or gay the community needs to know the facts. We will continue to follow this story and keep you up on any new developments.