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UPDATE: Shooting of Two Newark Students Shake Community, Prompts City-Wide Mentor Response at West Side High


By: Richard L. Smith 

Newark is grappling with the aftermath of a violent shooting incident near West Side High School that left two teenagers hospitalized on Thursday afternoon.AdPolice are actively searching for the reckless individual who brazenly entered a local pizzeria, bustling with high school students and discharged several gunshots before fleeing the establishment.

The event, which occurred at approximately 2:55 p.m. on S. 11th Street and South Orange Avenue, has sent shockwaves through the West Ward Fairmont section community.

According to Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Fragé, police swiftly responded to reports of shots fired.


On arrival, cops discovered two victims: a 15-year-old male and a 14-year-old female, both suffering from gunshot wounds. One of the juveniles sustained a stomach wound, while the other suffered a bullet wound to their arm.

Community leaders said both of the injured attended West Side High School 


The teenagers were promptly rushed to University Hospital, where they are currently in stable condition.

In response to the incident, nearby KIPP Rise Academy (formerly St. Roccos School) was placed on lockdown as police combed the area for the assailant.

According to reports, the violence also led to the cancellation of a varsity basketball game between West Side High and East Orange High School.

The shooting has prompted Newark city officials to issue an urgent call for city-wide counseling.

They have requested the presence of Youth Mentoring Programs at West Side High School from January 12th to 19th, reflecting the community's concern for its young residents. 

Shooting Since my days at West Side High School and living on nearby South 12th Street, the South Orange Avenue corridor has always been bustling with students. Post-school day from West Side High has been a hub of student social activity.

Businesses like Golden's Pizzeria, located at the heart of the incident, are popular student hangouts.

Local business owners I remember from childhood said that while students are typically orderly, altercations are not uncommon in the area, often happening away from the watchful eyes of school security and administrators.

The pizzeria business is no stranger to violent encounters.

GoldenThe restaurant, familiar to many locals for their Italian cheeseburgers and -from what I remember as a kid- their spice ham and cheese subs, became the scene of a tragic incident when its chef, Mr. Calvin Johnson, was fatally shot on a Saturday night in May 2012. 

The assailant entered Golden's Pizzeria and made his way behind the counter where Johnson was busy preparing food. In a shocking act, he executed Johnson before fleeing the scene.

 Authorities believe Johnson was specifically targeted, and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office then announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, but no arrests have ever been reported. This was unrelated to any high school student activities.

This recent shooting incident has raised questions about the effectiveness of current measures to maintain student safety.

The safety concerns that my family and neighbors appeared to experience persisted for over 35 years on South Orange Avenue, spanning from 9th Street to South 14th Street, and have rarely been mitigated.

Parents and community leaders told RLS Media that a call for increased mentor presence suggests a growing concern over the control of confrontational behavior among students.


As of now, no arrests have been made, and the investigation continues.

This shooting not only highlights the need for heightened observation around afterschool hangouts and community involvement but also underlines the crucial role of preventive measures in safeguarding the city's youth.

The Newark community, still reeling from the shooting, hopes for a swift resolution and a return to peace and safety.