Day: July 6, 2023

Governor Murphy Directs the Lowering of U.S. and New Jersey Flags in Honor of Newark Firefighters Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks, Jr.

July 6, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 335, ordering U.S. and New Jersey flags to fly at half-staff on Friday, July 7, 2023, in recognition and mourning of Newark firefighters Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks, Jr. On July 5, 2023, firefighters Acabou and Brooks were two of the many brave firefighters who responded to a fire aboard a cargo ship docked at Port Newark Container Terminal. Acabou and Brooks tragically both lost their lives while courageously battling the blaze aboard the ship.

“Augusto Acabou served as a firefighter for over 9 years and Wayne Brooks, Jr. served for over 16 years, with honorable devotion, remarkable courage, exceptional professionalism, loyalty, and commitment to the city of Newark and this state,” said Governor Murphy. “New Jersey has lost two courageous heroes who dedicated their lives to keeping our communities safe. It is with great sadness that we mourn their passing, and we keep their colleagues and loved ones in our prayers.”

For a copy of Executive Order No. 335, click here.

Suspect Detained In Escher Street Stabbing

July 6, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police responded to 50 Escher Street for a report of a stabbing around 7:45 p.m. Trenton EMS, Captial Health Paramedics and Trenton Fire were also detailed to the scene. A short time later TEMS and Paramedics transported one victim to the Trauma Center at Captial Health Regional Medical Center.

Trenton Police Department Public Information Officer, Detective Lieutenant, Nathan Bolognini told MidJersey.News that a male victim was stabbed in the abdomen and leg by male suspect.  The alleged suspect was detained.  The victim’s condition is unknown at this time. CIB detectives are on location and investigating. 

Two Firefighters Killed, Six Others Injured In Cargo Ship Fire In Port Newark, NJ

Unified Command established for vessel fire in Newark, New Jersey

July 6, 2023

By: U.S. Coast Guard

NEWARK, NJ–The Coast Guard, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Newark Fire Department, and Gallagher Marine Systems, the representative for the ship operator, have established a Unified Command in Port Newark, supported by a host of federal, state and local emergency response agencies. The Unified Command was established to continue its response to the fire aboard the cargo vessel Grande Costa D’Avorio, which caught fire Wednesday night around 9:30 PM.

The Unified Command’s operational priorities are ensuring the safety of the public and first responders, conducting fire suppression, protecting the environment, and ensuring any economic or operational activities in the port area are minimally affected.

Currently, firefighting crews are working to extinguish the fire, both from the pier, and from waterside. Crews are working to gain access to the upper decks of the vessel, which is believed to be the primary source of the ongoing fire.

Unfortunately, as of Thursday afternoon, there have been two fatalities and six injuries sustained due to responding to the fire aboard the vessel. Air quality monitoring is being conducted by the Newark Fire Department and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to ensure safe working conditions and public safety.

“On behalf of the Unified Command, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of the two firefighters who tragically lost their lives, and those injured during the response,” said Capt. Zeita Merchant, Captain of the Port of New York and Jersey. “We continue to work closely with our partner agencies and neighboring jurisdictions. Together, we are pooling our resources, expertise, and equipment to enhance the safety of all responders and maximize the effectiveness of our response efforts.”

The vessel was completing cargo operations of loading automobiles on to the vessel when the fire began. The crew of the vessel immediately activated the on- board fire suppression procedures while the local fire department was alerted.

The vessel is reportedly carrying 1,200 vehicles and 157 containers that were scheduled to be exported. There are reportedly no electric vehicles or hazardous cargo aboard.

At this time, the cause of the fire is under investigation. A formal investigation will be conducted to identify what caused the fire and all parties at the federal, state, and local levels as well as the owners are working closely together during this process.

The next update is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Friday.

NEWARK — The Newark Fire Department, the Coast Guard, and multiple state and area agencies are continuing their response to a fire in Port Newark on the vehicle carrier ship, Grande Costa D’Avorio.

Coast Guard watch standers at Sector New York received an initial call of a fire on the multi-level vessel at 9:38 PM.

A Coast Guard response boat out of Station New York, along with prevention and response teams, joined multiple area agencies as part of a unified response to the ongoing incident.

There have been no reports of crew members injuries on the ship, however two Newark firefighters were fatally injured while responding to the fire.

“Coast Guard is actively involved with the joint response and focused on the safety of responders, as well as assessing overall impact on the maritime transportation system and the environment,” said Capt. Zeita Merchant, the commander of Coast Guard Sector New York and captain of the port of New York and New Jersey. “Our thoughts are with Newark Fire Department, our partner agencies and the families of the firefighters lost during this response. These responders are working in inherently dangerous hazardous conditions when incidents of this nature occur, and their loss is truly tragic.”

Responders continue to fight the fire and a determination of environmental impact will be made once it is under control.

By: Newark Department of Public Safety

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Public Safety Director Fritz G. Fragé, and Fire Chief Rufus L. Jackson announce with deep regret the passing of two Newark Firefighters, Augusto Acabou, 45, and Wayne Brooks, Jr., 49, who each died while fighting a 2-alarm fire at Port Newark that began Wednesday, July 5, 2023, and continued into Thursday, July 6, 2023.

Firefighter Acabou served the Newark Fire Division for 9 ½ years and was assigned to Engine 16, Tour 1, and Firefighter Brooks served 16 ½ years. He was assigned to Ladder 4, Tour 1.

At approximately 9:25 p.m. on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, Newark Firefighters responded to Corbin Street and Marsh Street on a call of 6-7 vehicles on fire on the Grande Costa D’Avorio, a cargo ship docked at the Port. Firefighters located the fire at Berth No. 18, level 10 with the fire extending to level 12 of the ship.

Along with the tragic deaths of two of Newark’s Bravest, three other members were injured during this incident. Newark Fire Captain Dave Rogers, who suffered a burn to his foot; Newark Fire Captain Michael Spadavecchia, who suffered from heat exhaustion; and Newark Fire Captain Richard Cooper, who suffered respiratory distress and possible smoke inhalation.

Members of the Elizabeth Fire Department who suffered injuries during the fire include Firefighter W. White and Firefighter J. Manes. Both men suffered smoke inhalation.

Director Fragé is grateful for the courageous mutual aid responses from Port Authority Police, Jersey City Fire Department, FDNY Special Operations, Bayonne Fire Department, Elizabeth Fire Department, Hackensack Fire Department, Union County Rescue, Hudson County Rescue, University Hospital EMS, South Orange EMS, Millburn Fire Department, and several other agencies.

Statement from Governor Murphy on the Passing of Two Newark Firefighters 

“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of two Newark firefighters, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Tammy and I extend our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones, and we pray that those injured have a full and speedy recovery. This tragedy is a painful reminder of the dangers our firefighters face and their remarkable courage.”

Posted by: Newark Fire Department Facebook Page:

Today, we gather to honor the courageous lives of two remarkable individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

FF Augusto Acabou and FF Wayne Brooks Jr.

To the families of Wayne and Augusto, we offer our deepest condolences and unyielding support. Your loved ones will forever be remembered as guardians of our community, and we are forever indebted to them and to you for sharing them with us.

Rest in peace brothers, know that your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace Augie

Rest in peace Big Bear

Drone operators from the Elizabeth Police Department capture video of the 692-foot cargo vessel Grande Costa D’Avorio, moored at the Port Newark Marine Terminal, July 6, 2023. Crews from the Elizabeth Police Department were able to deploy a drone capable of recording thermal imaging of the fire. (Video courtesy of the Elizabeth Police Department)

The Coast Guard, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Newark Fire Department, and multiple state and area agencies respond to a fire in Port Newark on the vehicle carrier ship, Grande Costa D’Avorio. Fire fighting crews are working to extinguish the fire both from the pier and from FDNY fireboats. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Dan Henry)

Hightstown Man Sentenced To 6-Years In Prison For Vehicular Homicide and DWI In North Brunswick

July 6, 2023

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced today that a man charged with Aggravated Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, and Assault by Auto has been sentenced to 6 years in prison.

On June 28, 2022, at approximately 11:50 P.M., on Route 130 in North Brunswick Township a 2016 Toyota Highlander driven by Egrevel Vasquez-Garcia, 28, of Hightstown, struck a Jeep Patriot driven by Levelt Alexis, Jr. at a high rate of speed causing Mr. Alexis’ death. The Highlander then crossed into oncoming lanes of travel where it struck other vehicles. Investigation revealed that Vasquez-Garcia was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

On February 21, 2023, Vasquez-Garcia pled guilty to second-degree Vehicular Homicide and Driving While Intoxicated. Superior Court Judge Thomas

J. Buck, J.S.C., sentenced Vasquez-Garcia to 6 years in state prison pursuant to the No Early Release Act. Vasquez-Garcia must serve 85% of his sentence before being eligible for parole and his driver’s license will also be suspended for ten years upon his release from prison.

Millstone Township Fire Department Responds To Serious Crash

July 6, 2023

MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Sgt. Philip Curry from the New Jersey State Police, Office of Public Information told that a crash occurred at 5:07 p.m. in the driveway of a Baird Road residence in Millstone.  The preliminary investigation revealed that a Subaru Forester was traveling in a driveway when it entered a ditch and overturned.  The driver sustained non-life threatening injuries and was airlifted to an area hospital.  The passenger, a 94-year-old woman sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to an area hospital.  The crash remains under investigation.

The Millstone Township Fire Department reported that yesterday afternoon the Department was dispatched for a MVA with entrapment on Baird Rd. Squad 32-80 arrived to find a vehicle off the road with three entrapped inside. Units went in-service and requested additional resources to assist with the incident.

MTFD Facebook photos

Trenton Woman Charged With First-Degree Murder And Related Charges In Fatal Stabbing

July 6, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced today that the Mercer County Homicide Task Force has arrested and charged a Trenton woman for the June 19, 2023, stabbing homicide on Edgewood Avenue in Trenton.

Shawnette Johnson, 42, of Trenton, was taken into custody this morning by the U.S. Marshals NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force. She has been charged with first-degree murder, third- degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, and fourth-degree tampering with evidence. The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Johnson.

On Monday, June 19, 2023, at approximately 10:45 p.m., the Trenton Emergency Medical Services (TEMs) received a 911 call for a male stabbed at 1100 Edgewood Avenue, Trenton, New Jersey. The 911 caller reported that his neighbor was stabbed and requested paramedics to the location. TEMs arrived and transported the victim, later identified as Ernest Denard, 61, to Capital Health Regional Medical Center. The victim was pronounced deceased at the hospital at approximately 2:18 a.m.

Investigation revealed that the victim knocked on his neighbor’s door at approximately 10:45 p.m. and asked him to call an ambulance because he had been stabbed. HTF detectives reviewed video surveillance from the victim’s apartment complex which showed that, approximately 12-minutes earlier, the victim knocked on the door of apartment A3 and was let in by a black female. He exited after approximately 10 minutes with visible blood on his shirt. Detectives observed on the video that the victim lifted his shirt and appeared to be looking at his abdomen. He then walked back towards his apartment in building B where he requested his neighbor call for ambulance.

Additional video showed the resident of apartment A3, Shawnette Johnson, exit her apartment one minute after the victim left and walk towards the rear exit of the building. She opened the rear door, stepped outside and appeared to throw an object, which was similar in size and shape to a knife, before she walked back into the apartment building. Detectives later searched the area where Johnson was seen throwing the object and recovered a steak knife with a black handle. A subsequent search of Johnson’s apartment revealed additional knives of the same type and manufacturer as the knife recovered outside, as well as suspected blood on the floor, on the inside front door doorknob, and on blue slide-on sandals that Shawnette Johnson was observed wearing when she exited the apartment.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call HTF Detective Jennifer Eyster at (609) 989-6406. Information can also be emailed to

Despite having been charged, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Names of the 2023 Trenton Homicide Victims

  1. 1/16/2023 Donnell Williams, 29, Trenton, Shooting.
  2. 2/12/2023 Stephanie Vil, 34, of Burlington, Shooting.
  3. 2/16/2023 Khalil Glanton, 23, Trenton, Stabbing.
  4. 3/24/2023 Harold Rosario, 19, Trenton, Shooting.
  5. 3/26/2023 Nyeisha Saunders, 41, Trenton, Shooting.
  6. 4/09/2023 Jhosse Tolentino, 23, Trenton, Shooting
  7. 4/12/2023 Jared Anderson, Trenton, Shooting (died May 29)
  8. 4/14/2023 Daniel Garvin, 46, Trenton, Shooting
  9. 4/20/2023 Ralph Conquest, 43, of Lawrence, Shooting
  10. 5/14/2023 Roger Martinez-Rodriguez, 27, Trenton, Stabbing
  11. 5/14/2023 Justin Reed, 24, of Ewing, Shooting (died May 22)
  12. 5/26/2023 Sherief Treadwell, 36, Trenton, Shooting
  13. 6/09/2023 Markell Biggs, 20, Trenton, Shooting
  14. 6/11/2023 Shaquan Brown, 23, Trenton, Shooting
  15. 6/15/2023 James Junior Journigan, 36, Shooting
  16. 6/15/2023 Louis Washington, 38, Trenton, Shooting, (died June 17)
  17. 6/19/2023 Ernest Denard, 61, Stabbing
  18. 6/22/2023 Guillermo Sanchez, Shooting
  19. 7/01/2023 Precious Saunders, 32, of Trenton