2nd arrest made in NJ mass shooting, woman injured in gunfire declared clinically dead

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Woman clinically dead after NJ mass shooting
Braylin Holmes, 19, was one of three people killed during a mass shooting at a house party in Cumberland County, New Jersey

FAIRFIELD TWP., New Jersey -- New Jersey State Police announced on Tuesday that a woman who was being hospitalized for injuries sustained in a mass shooting over the weekend has been declared clinically dead.

Braylin Holmes, 19, of Millville, was one of the 14 people shot on Sunday at a house party on Commerce Street in Fairfield Township Sunday night.

Holmes had just returned home for the summer from college in Virginia. She was studying to be a social worker.

Braylin Holmes (Photo provided by family)

Authorities say Holmes was declared clinically deceased on Monday night, but she's being kept on life support for organ donation purposes. Holmes is the third victim to die in the shooting.

Also on Tuesday, state police announced a second arrest in this case. Darrell Dawkins, 30, of Bridgeton was charged with numerous weapons offenses.

Police allegedly found a handgun inside the truck of his vehicle. Court documents reveal that Darrell Dawkins was the individual who hosted the party at the home. He is not the suspected shooter, state police say.

Darrell Dawkins
Cumberland County Department of Corrections

On Monday, Kevin Dawkins, 36, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in connection with the shooting.

Investigators have also not revealed whether the men were related.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Bridgeton police officers found Kevin Dawkins armed with a handgun near the Maplewood Garden Apartments on Sunday morning. He was allegedly found lying down beside a tree with the handgun clutched in his right hand. He was arrested without incident.

Authorities say Kevin Dawkins was in possession of the same handgun while at the party, and that witnesses identified him as holding and discharging the weapon at the property, the document says. However, it's unclear if bullets from his weapon struck anyone at the party.

Kevin Dawkins

The two other victims killed in the shooting have been identified as Kevin Elliott, 30, and Asia Hester, 25.

Investigators say someone emerged from the woods and started firing. Neighbors said they heard popping noises that sounded like fireworks.

Pictured: 25-year-old Asia Hester and 30-year-old Kevin Elliott

"We started seeing cops flying down the road, state troopers coming down this way, helicopters in the air and I'm like, 'This is nuts, man,'" recalled Joeron Pierce, who lives nearby.

Chopper video showed the aftermath on Sunday morning. A tent that appeared to have been knocked over was on the ground. Debris was scattered around the yard.

On Monday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal called the shooting a targeted attack. The motive for the shooting is still being investigated.

Multiple firearms and shell casings were recovered from the scene, Grewal said. He added that the state will be working with federal partners to determine where the guns originated from and whether they can be linked to other recent acts of violence in the area.

"This was a birthday party. A birthday party is supposed to be a joyous event, not a target for those hellbent on inflicting harm on a community," said Gov. Phil Murphy.

New Jersey officials announce an arrest in the mass shooting at house party in Bridgeton.

Tiffany Kowalchick worked with Hester at the Jefferson Health in Washington Township.

"She would selflessly travel all the way from Bridgeton to Washington Township to work with the sick and elderly... She would clean and bath them as if they were her own family. Asia truly had a heart of gold," said Kowalchick in a statement to Action News.

Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said it is estimated that several hundred people were at the party.

Webb-McRae said the wounded victims ranged in age from 19 to 35, included both men and women, and all were Cumberland County residents.

John Fuqua, of the Life Worth Living organization, said his nephew's friend was among those who were shot.

"He was running for his life. He got on the ground, he had to crawl," Fuqua said. "It wasn't a shooting gallery, it wasn't a hunting expedition, it was a party and a few bad apples chose to turn it into something else."

Two people were killed and another 12 others were injured in a mass shooting during a house party near Bridgeton, New Jersey.

Community leaders said the gathering was a 90s-themed birthday party.

"We have a lot of challenges in this community and we've had a lot of tragedies," said Melissa Helmbrecht of the HopeLoft Community Center.

Helmbrecht said the partygoers were excited about the warm weather and opportunity to get together.

"I'm just worried for our friends, our family, our employees. Over the coming days we're going to have a lot of pieces to put back together," she said.

Kevin Elliott, 30, and Asia Hester, 25, were identified as two of the victims in a mass shooting at a party in Cumberland County, New Jersey.

Any attendees with information are asked to contact New Jersey State Police at 856-451-0101 or submit a tip to the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Ofice at njccpo.org/tips.