The number of homicides recorded in Union County in 2018 plunged to single digits for the first time in nearly 50 years, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Friday.
A total of nine homicides occurred in the County last year, the lowest figure since eight were recorded in 1970, according to internal statistics and a review of archived Uniform Crime Reports performed with the assistance of the New Jersey State Police.
“This is an extraordinary thing, and certainly welcome news,” acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan said. “And while it is impossible to explain it with certainty, a share of credit must go to the deterrent effect created by cooperation received from concerned community members, as well as to the efforts of our local police departments, which have tirelessly worked in tandem with our investigative units and federal and state law enforcement partners during recent years to target violent criminals. The fact that so many of those individuals are off the streets, in some cases for life, no doubt contributed to the historic low in homicides we experienced in 2018. We are working diligently with our law enforcement partners to continue this trend.”
Nonfatal shootings also fell in Union County last year, with 34 being recorded, compared with 47 in 2017 and 49 in 2016, marking a decline of approximately 30 percent.
Five of Union County’s 2018 homicides occurred in Plainfield, with three in Elizabeth and one in Linden. Eighteen of 21 municipalities did not record a homicide.
Six of the nine 2018 homicides have been solved, with a total of 14 defendants charged, thanks to the efforts of the Union County Homicide Task Force, which works with local police, the Union County Police Department, and the Union County Sheriff’s Office in investigating such crimes. The Task Force solved 80 of the 105 homicides that took place in the five years prior to that, with its 76 percent clearance rate well above a statewide average that has hovered around 50 percent during that same time.
The three open 2018 homicides remain under active investigation by the Task Force and its partner agencies:
- At approximately 1 a.m. on Sunday, June 24, 2018, Shavonne Young, 25, of Scotch Plains and Michael Welsh, 34, of Plainfield were shot by an unknown gunman as they sat in a vehicle near the area of New and West Fifth streets in Plainfield. Welsh died later that morning, while Young was pronounced dead several days later. Anyone with information about this shooting is urged to contact Task Force Sgt. Johnny Ho at 908-403-8271 or Detective William Guy at 908-347-2212.
- At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 11, 2018, Benjamin Nord, 45, of Plainfield was shot by an unknown gunman as he stood on a sidewalk on the 400 block of Liberty Street in Plainfield. Nord was pronounced dead at a local hospital about an hour later. Anyone with information about this shooting is being urged to contact Task Force Sgt. Danika Ramos at 908-451-7739 or Detective Andrew Medeiros at 908-337-0832.
The Union County Crime Stoppers also are continuing to offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in either of these cases; tips can be given anonymously by phone at 908-654-TIPS (8477) or online at www.uctip.org.