Camden on edge after two teens murdered

Camden police on the scene at 8th and Jackson streets where a teen was found murdered. Another teen was found fatally shot shortly afterward, in a nearby alley.

May 13, 2011 3:06:45 PM PDT
Police in Camden are investigating the overnight murders of two teenagers, as the city's murder rate this year now outpaces last year's.

Police found the first shooting victim just after 11 o'clock Thursday night, near the intersection of 8th and Jackson streets. He died at the hospital.

As police were investigating the first crime scene, they found a second teen in a nearby alley. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both victims were teenagers. 17-year-old David Rivera was from Clementon and 18-year-old Dequanta Watts was from Camden. Police say they knew each other and were victims of the same gunman. Both were wearing orange bandanas, which appeared to signal gang leadership.

"It is not in a typical drug neighborhood. But there may have been some drug or gang connections," said Camden County prosecutor Warren Faulk.

"From what I heard on the street, the guy who robbed them were drug dealers," said 50-year neighborhood resident Roger Barker. "The teens were on bicycles and the drug dealers ran them down with a car and shot them."

As Action News returned to the scene Friday, it was so quiet. Schools were in session, churches prepared for Sunday services, and one longtime resident was tending to her flower garden on 8th Street in South Camden's Centerville section. But she told Action News she was stunned by the double homicide right across the street and in the back alley.

"It's a very quiet neighborhood," the resident said. "It's not rowdy. It's very quiet, nobody is outside, everybody goes in at a certain time. First time I have ever seen anything like this happen on this block."

On a per capita basis Camden is still considered one of America's most dangerous cities. Add to this statistic the massive layoff of police officers in this city with so many mean streets and so much poverty, there is no sign this town will be shedding that reputation anytime soon.

So far, this year's murder rate in Camden is outpacing last year's. As of Friday, there were 16 murders, including the two teens gunned down Thursday night. A total of 39 people lost their lives to violence last year in Camden. In 2009, 29 people were killed.