Trenton tops homicide record after 2 men killed overnight

The Lower Trenton Bridge

The Lower Trenton Bridge. (P. Kenneth Burns/WHYY)

Updated: 3:30 p.m.

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Trenton, New Jersey, has officially seen its bloodiest year on record.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said Sunday that it is investigating two homicides that occurred over the past 24 hours.

The first homicide occurred around 9:50 p.m. Saturday when Trenton police responded to a report of a man stabbed on the 300 block of Brunswick Avenue at Southard Street.  The victim, 33-year-old Daniel Alvaranga, was found in the middle of the intersection. He was transported to the hospital, where he died a short time later.

The second homicide happened around 2:50 a.m. Sunday. Police found a man in his 30s inside a first-floor apartment on the 300 block of Centre Street, suffering from a gunshot wound to his head. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities said the man’s name will be released once “positive identification is confirmed.” His death marked the 39th murder of the year in New Jersey’s capital city.

The Brunswick Avenue and Centre Street homicides appear to be unrelated.

The city’s previous record of 37 murders occurred in 2013. That record was tied on Nov. 17.

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora said, at the time, that increased collaboration between Trenton police, New Jersey State Police and other law enforcement “continues to bear fruit.” He pointed to the arrest of two men accused of illegally trafficking guns from South Carolina to be sold in Trenton.

Gusciora credited the city’s police department for seizing 200 guns and 3,000 rounds of ammunition so far this year. He has previously blamed part of the increase in violence on guns that are easily accessible in other states being brought into Trenton.

In a statement issued Sunday, Gusciora said “safety will never be possible if we don’t stop the ready supply of weapons that are used in these crimes.” He also again praised the law enforcement partnership between the city, county prosecutor’s office and state police, saying the “critical” partnership will continue once the city’s real-time crime center goes live early next year.

Last week, the Trenton City Council almost pulled out of a pact with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate homicides. The Trentonian reported that the council voted 4-3 to extend its participation in the Mercer County Homicide Task Force, which was formed in 2013 after Trenton had set what was then a new homicide record.

Gusciora urged residents to continue getting involved by reporting information to the anonymous Trenton police tip line at 609-989-3663, ask the police department about participating in its new Block Watch Program or, if you’re a business, register cameras with Trenton Crime Eye.

The mayor added that the city is “carefully evaluating” law enforcement leadership and strategy at the moment.

“We owe it to our residents to explore every possible avenue to ensure 2021 is not a repeat of 2020,” Gusciora said.

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