NEWARK, N.J. – Two men were arrested in connection with a series of drive-by shootings that killed two people and wounded one in attacks that further shook a city trying to shed a reputation for gun violence.
The men were arrested in Newark late Friday, said Police Director Garry McCarthy. They were not charged with the killings or shootings but were being held on miscellaneous charges. Police would not specify the charges.
The attacks occurred Friday afternoon over a 45-minute period in at least three locations — one a half-block from a middle school. A 21-year-old man and 24-year-old woman were killed, and a 27-year-old man was wounded.
An official familiar with the investigation said the shootings appear to be targeted attacks, not random. The official was not authorized to speak about the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Police initially suspected that the shooting of a 16-year-old boy was also connected, but McCarthy said Saturday that it appeared unrelated.
A white SUV believed to be the vehicle seen at the drive-by attacks was found Saturday, McCarthy said. At least one surveillance camera had photographed it, police said.
Friday's killings brought more unwanted attention to Newark. In the 14 months since three college-bound friends were slain execution-style in a playground, anti-crime initiatives have been implemented, including a network of more than 100 surveillance cameras in high-crime areas.
But a gunshot detection system that would alert police to the location of gunfire and provide information on the number of shooters and shots has not been activated.
Mayor Cory A. Booker praised the surveillance camera system for providing images of the vehicle involved in Friday's shootings.
"They were absolutely helpful to the investigation. Those cameras made a difference in the case," Booker told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Homicides have decreased dramatically in New Jersey's largest city since 2006, when 106 people were killed and the Newark Teachers Union paid for several billboards that implored: "HELP WANTED: Stop The Killings In Newark Now!"
Through Friday, 52 homicides had been committed in Newark in 2008, compared with 83 in the same period in 2007, according to the Police Department. But robberies, burglaries and aggravated assaults all were up since last year.
Associated Press writer Beth DeFalco in Trenton contributed to this report.