As search continues for gunman who left mourning teen in critical condition, activists fight against violence escalating

NEWARK -- A shooting during a candlelight vigil that’s left a high schooler fighting for her life could also lead to more violence, activists said on Monday.

That's why they said they're doing all they can to guard against that threat, along with police. Both police and activists say they're actively trying to find out who was behind the dangerous attack, which also left three other young women injured.

Jayla Green, 16, was shot in the head Saturday evening, and three of her friends, ranging in age from 16 to 20, were hit by gunfire in the legs. They'd been attending a candlelight vigil in remembrance of two friends who'd died at a vehicle crash scene at the corner of Bergen Street and Madison Avenue Friday.

In that incident, two teens in an SUV hit a utility pole, flipped the vehicle onto its roof, rammed a mini van and plowed into a house on the corner. The two young men, Quadre Robinson, 17, and Quayim Battle, 19, were found dead at the scene. Police said that the SUV was reported stolen from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

On Monday, local activists who were in contact with Jayla Green's mother brought balloons to her daughter at University Hospital, by her mother's request.

They also spent the afternoon visiting local high schools, including the one Jayla Green currently attends, where she's a cheerleader, and her previous school, from which she transferred this year. They said that the situation is potentially raw, and that the shooting has had repercussions throughout the community.

"I could've been there with my 8-year-old," said Audrey Sykes, leader of Westside Victims' Outreach. She spoke with PIX11 News as she was heading out from her office to visit local high schools as they were letting out for the day.

Another activist, Keesha Eure, chairperson of the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, said that part of what may have allowed the shooting in the first place was a disconnect between adults in the community and young people connected to the teens killed in the SUV crash.

"They gathered themselves" on social media, Eure said. Even though she'd checked in with her own teen and young adult family members on Saturday, she said, she hadn't asked if any events had been planned in remembrance of the young men who died.

"We should have known about it," she told PIX11 News.

A $50,000 reward is being offered by the Essex County prosecutor for any information leading to an arrest in the shooting.

Newark mayor Ras Baraka has called on the community to help the gunman or gunmen turn themselves in, and New Jersey governor Phil Murphy tweeted that he was "devastated" by the shooting.

He asked anyone with any information to call the Essex County Sheriff’s 24-hour tip line at 1-877-NWK-GUNS. All calls are confidential.

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