Family and friends mark anniversary of a young hero’s death in Camden

 Friend and family of Dominick Andujar remember the 6-year-old one year after the boy was killed by an intruder.  (Elizabeth Fiedler/WHYY)

Friend and family of Dominick Andujar remember the 6-year-old one year after the boy was killed by an intruder. (Elizabeth Fiedler/WHYY)

Camden has seen recent progress in fighting crime, with the help of a new police force.  But on Monday, mourners remembered a young crime victim whom they called “the city’s youngest hero.”

The story of Dominick Andujar’s death is almost too much to bear. That’s true even in this crime-stricken city, where few are strangers to violence. 

At a church in Pennsuaken, the 6-year-old’s family and friends gathered with police officers to remember young Dominick.

Police Chief Scott Thomson called Dominick “Camden’s youngest and bravest hero.”

The 6-year-old died one year ago protecting his sister from a knife-wielding, drug-fueled intruder.  The family believes the boy woke up to his sister’s screams, then fought with the intruder, giving his sister, Amber, time to call for neighbors’ help. But the attacker cut the Dominick’s throat.

Chief Thomson said in his years as a cop, he’s seen many acts of courage and heroism: “But none have reached the level of what Dominick Andujar did one year ago today. Dominick served as an inspiration for us all.”

Many of the dozens who attended the service wore T-shirts printed with Dominick’s grinning, energetic face. He was remembered as a little boy who liked to break dance and make others smile. His family said by gathering on the grim anniversary, they hoped to make some sense of his life and his sacrifice.

After the church service the mourners traveled to the Camden neighborhood where the deadly incident unfolded. Music poured out of a car while the group marched carrying signs and a banner with his face.

Standing in the steady rain, Jim Washington said he came out to support Dominick’s mother, one of his former employees.  “[He] was a very good child and that really broke my heart when I heard that. I just couldn’t believe it was her child to tell you the truth. And I still don’t want to believe it,” said Washington.

William Dixon, 8, said Dominick was a good friend. “He was like my best friend. He always played with me,” Dixon said the two used to play football together.

Dominick’s sister, Amber, survived the attack and helped police identify a suspect. That man, Osvaldo Rivera, now awaits trial.

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