Questions still remain about why two teens were shot and killed on the second floor of a Woodland Avenue duplex Wednesday night in Pleasantville.
“It’s just uncalled for,” Curtis Dillard, 60, said of the violence in the city. He said most of the issues prompting crimes seems to make less sense as time progresses.
“The two kids that died were fighting over a dog,” Dillard said. “It was a pitbull, a puppy. And they (the victims) were friends.”
When asked about the comment that the two victims shot each other over an issue with a puppy, Haleigh Walz, spokeswoman for the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, said the matter was still under investigation Friday.
Two memorial pages were created on Facebook for victims Taron “Jux” Williams, 19, and Todd “Doodie” Mitchell, 13. Many friends were in disbelief after receiving news of their deaths, according to posts on the social-media site and on Twitter. Most cited their ages, especially the fact that Mitchell was much younger, as unbelievable.
There was a makeshift candlelight vigil at the scene on Thursday night. For many residents, being a resident in Pleasantville is like living where time stands still. Despite government and police efforts to redevelop and patrol the area, the crime and drugs remain.
“Part of the problem is that they feel no one cares. The news (media) comes in and covers it for one day and then leave. If you come back and do a follow up, then they start thinking, ‘Oh they care,’ and they will start coming out and talking about it more,” Dillard said.
Former resident Jay Walker, 24, who moved to Somers Point, recalls growing up in Pleasantville with frustration.
“The school system is, hands down, one of the most funded in the state, but they are not putting out any results,” Walker said. “Suspending a kid in the hood is not a punishment, but they just didn’t get that. It just allows them to go home.”
Superintendent Garnell Bailey could not be reached for comment regarding the comments about the school district.
Walker lived near Woodland Avenue, the site of the most recent double homicide involving two teens.
“It was something every other day, the shooting and violence,” Walker said.
Up until his senior year, Walker was in honors classes in Pleasantville High School. He spent his last year in Egg Harbor Township and was surprised to find how unprepared he was.
“I found out I was really behind,” Walker said. “People who grew up in different towns read the same books I read, but they had read them four or six years before me.”
He also described criminal activity in Pleasantville as rampant. When his girlfriend was visiting a parent’s home in February, she had forgotten to lock her car parked outside the house, Walker said. When they returned to the car, $70 from her wallet and an iPod valued at $100 were stolen, he said.
“That means they went around and checked each car. Who does that anymore?” Walker asked.
Now a resident of Somers Point, Walker said he feels much safer. “Everyone says hi, and there is no shadiness, like groups hanging around. No one looks like they are going to do something … or coming back from doing something.”
No burial information was available late Friday for Williams and Mitchell.
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