At the current pace, Camden, N.J., might not only exceed last year’s total of 49 homicides, but surpass the record of 58 set in 1995, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s a major concern for us,” Police Chief Scott Thomson said. “We have more than just one Bloods faction in our city. We have more than one open-air drug market. So the potential [for a turf battle] is there in these other markets as well.” Most of the 13 people who died in July were men. The youngest victim was a 16-year-old boy, the oldest a 42-year-old woman.
Most deaths were connected to the drug trade or gangs. There were some innocent victims, such as a charismatic 17-year-old and a 39-year-old father of six who tried to break up a fight between acquaintances. Camden, often ranked among the nation’s most dangerous cities, is trying to cope. One family held a fund-raiser to pay for a funeral and then joined others mourning their dead. A new clergy task force has held nighttime walks, and residents took part in an antiviolence march. Homicide investigators are working 60- and 70-hour weeks chasing down witnesses and suspects. They hustle from case to case, often unable to do second and third interviews immediately – the ones that could help to crack cases. Shootings have become more deadly, said Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk. The 103 shootings from January through July were about 16 percent more than the same period last year, figures show. Homicides spiked more than 80 percent, to 39.