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Police Chief: Only Suspect Died in Suicide, Used Stolen Gun in Shootings

Residents of Montclair's Fourth Ward gather at community meeting to discuss recent shootings, domestic violence and mental illness.

Montclair’s police chief told a room of concerned residents Tuesday night the only suspect in last week’s shootings at Canterbury Park died in a suicide. 

“Rest assured there is no one else out there,” Chief David Sabagh told those gathered at a community meeting for the Fourth Ward, a section of Montclair rattled after authorities say Brandon Brown, 26, of Montclair, shot his girlfriend Shanae Howard, 24, of Orange, multiple times before shooting himself in a quiet neighborhood park on May 16.

Tuesday’s meeting was led by Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville, who sought to get the facts to residents and discuss issues of domestic violence, gun violence and mental illness.

"We meet tonight to gather facts and to make sense of seemingly senseless acts of violence," Baskerville said.

Chief Sabagh, who could not reveal many details since the investigation is still open, did answer a question on many people’s minds — whether the gun was obtained legally.

The chief confirmed the gun used by Brown and found in the park was stolen.

“It was not legally owned. It was stolen. It was in his possession,” Sabagh said.

A recent gun buy-back program held by Essex County yielded 1,700 guns, 700 alone from Montclair, the chief said.

“We like to get the guns off the street,” he said. “It’s in everyone's best interest.”

State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) is a resident of the Fourth Ward where the recent gun violence occurred.

Gill said she is currently working to pass the strongest gun control laws in the country for New Jersey. She said she also advocates for funding domestic violence awareness programs.

“The pain of violence is the same if you are from the Fourth Ward, from Newtown or from Upper Montclair,” Gill said, sharing that she had recently met families of the victims of the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Gill said the community has an important role to play and laws alone cannot bring an end to gun violence.

“We have to be more loving in our interactions with random strangers,” she said.

Cynthia Walker of Montclair-based S.O.F.I.A., an advocacy group for victims of domestic violence, spoke at the meeting after leading a candlelight vigil in memory of Howard earlier that night.

Walker said her organization helps all victims of domestic violence, whether they are women, men or teens.

The group is working to educate children at an early age about domestic violence.

“Our focus is to break the violence cycle,” she said.

Walker said S.O.F.I.A. is also hoping to start a group of “well-meaning men to speak with these young men in the street who have no direction.”

Councilwoman Baskerville maintained that Montclair is a safe community, a point echoed by the police chief who said overall violent crime has been on a downward trend in the town in the past several years. 

"Crime is down, but it is not gone," Sabagh said.

Stuart Weissman May 22, 2013 at 01:46 PM
“We have to be more loving in our interactions with random strangers,” she said. Essex County is doomed.
Raven Morgan May 22, 2013 at 10:46 PM
I know for an absolute fact that these 2 people were garbage...violent, ignorant, low-class, criminal drug addicts. The world is better off without them. Open your eyes, people...love won't help. They sold their pain management meds and knew how to work the system. If you think they are rare birds, you are very much mistaken. Their way of life is so common in East Orange, Montclair, etc.
mfa07042 May 23, 2013 at 01:57 AM
I agree in your assessment of the two "victims". However, I believe you are engaging in a bit of hyperbole when you mention Montclair and East Orange in the same sentence as if the two are in any ways equatable to one another. Montclair has sprinklings of persons who rent apartments and who are often related to or from East Orange. The majority of Montclair is however a very upper middle class, affluent, smart town where people sport ivy league pedigrees, give tremendous amounts to charitable and environmental causes. The atmosphere, the culture, the schools, the parks, the meticulously landscaped homes for block after block, are very much a Montclair thing. This sets Montclair apart, as does the emphasis on learning, contributing to society and being generally benevolent. Montclair's homes are all different, each one sporting bits of character and adding to the ambiance. It has its troubles, but Montclair is still the town that so many production companies and movie scouts select for its ideal and picturesque esthetics. Its a place known more for its Lacrosse program and its residents being well known figures in the arts, TV & print media, law and finance worlds. East Orange is known for Naughty By Nature, its Blood gangs, stolen cars and its eyesore real estate. The kids in Montclair who might be trying to pretend they live in the hood, they are very much in the minority. Their actions serve to further disenfranchise them. But, ignorant people like to insulate.
Li May 24, 2013 at 02:42 PM
I can honestly say that I'm 100%digusted of your comment.Do you know them personally? My assumption is NO! The likes of you to sit down and disrespect the departed just goes to show your morals as a human as well as your personal characteristics.You're low life garbage.Domestic Violence is Not an issue to make joke make light or ignore and/or turn it into something else. For all we know you're suffering abuse on the verge of being beaten to death by your spouse and just don't want to believe that this could truly happen. That is the case in a lot of situations. BLAME THE VICTIM... There are med selling people everywhere, Upper Montclair, Livingston, Short Hills, Cherry Hill, Where you live! So I definitely believe you should open up your eyes.Your ignorance is sickening.95% sure the world would be a better place when it finally gets rid of people like yourself. Since you would like to make an assessment of people that you do not know....There are public files where you can find out PUBLIC information... The sellers of pain meds were children of hard working families that had HONEST jobs that paid bills, paid mortgages, car notes, school fee's took care of families and now have to fund funerals. Your a pathetic soul to sit here and write this! May God have mercy on your troubled soul! I just hope that noone in your "PERFECT, HIGH CLASS, NON VIOLENT, ANTI DRUG "FAMILY is a victim of any of this! And I hope if they are! Your ignorant comments remain the same!
Li May 24, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Superficial lifestyle? I don't know how you can obtain a superficial lifestyle in MONTCLAIR! It's either you can afford it or you can't! I guess when the young man shot and killed his mother and then overdosed on meds in Clifton, that was okay because they aren't superficial huh? You're just as foolish as Raven......
Li May 24, 2013 at 03:48 PM
Again.....DISGUSTED! STILL DISGUSTED! I am not a victim of Domestic Violence or any type of violence but I have a Double Minor is Criminal Justice and Women Studies and a Minor is Women studies/Sexual and Domestic Violence Focus. So My out look on this situation is from a less ignorant perspective do to the fact I have been educated on it. You're right everyone is entitled to an opinion and my opinion is those comments were disrespectful and sickening.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 May 24, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Two lives were lost. Be that in Montclair, East Orange, Newark, Harlem or the Upper East Side still two precious lives were lost and two families grieve their tragedy. Suggesting that one life was only that of a horrid criminal and the other that of a pure victim is perhaps, not only simplifying matters, but also missing the point. Good people are homeless or live in poor housing or do not manage a sufficient income. Good people may also live in warm comfortable homes, they may have two new BMW's in the drive, they may have their own yachts and four homes on four different continents. People who are less good may also be panhandling in the morning or simply dropping their kids off at Montclair-Kimberly Academy in their new SUV. Good people do live in East Orange. And good people do live in Montclair.
mfa07042 May 26, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Income, assets, net value - none of these things amount to the goodness or badness of people. There are lots of good people who are homeless. That is indisputable. Good people do live in EO and Newark and Orange, but please don't feed me the politically correct pill about how it's a minority of bad people committing crime in Newark. It is a predominant culture of violence and criminality which is fostered by the ignorance and desperation of poverty. But it is something that dominates the area of Newark. Why do you think so many "good people" move out the moment they are able to? Others are perhaps imprisoned by their own minds, while still others feel an obligation to stick around to help a large and extended circle of dependents. There are superficial people, mean people and selfish people who live up the hill in Montclair, just as there are charitable, kind, patient and compassionate people living in Montclair. However, the predatory atmosphere one finds permeating every corner in Newark is not to be found in Montclair...despite the hip hop dreams of a small minority of angry, disenfranchised wannabe gangsters. This can be said to be a reflection of the "goodness" in the community. It is my opinion that the per capita rate of "bad people" in Newark is out of control well above that to be found in neighboring communities. It doesn't take a sophisticated level of discernment to affirm this, and my opinion is an informed one, based upon the experiential.
mizz bytch May 27, 2013 at 01:59 AM
It's sad how people can sit back am bash the dead...Brandon M. Brown is my cousin and he was a loving and caring person... @ raven for you to say you know them personally its ashamed how you can kick his back in but yet played a part in the very same lifestyle they once lived... People passing judgement but don't wanna be judged for there comment how ignorant can yall be... It doesn't matter what city you came from there are still the same type of people in every city...state....and county...
Raven Morgan May 27, 2013 at 06:29 PM
I was not a part of their lifestyle. I tried to warn people about him. Your cousin is a murderer, drug dealer, gang member. Loving caring people don't kill their girlfriends.

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