Zedekiah G. Holmes was charged with murder on Wednesday for the shooting deaths of Kevin Elliott and Asia Hester during a mass shooting in Fairfield Township on May 22. The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office announced additional charges Thursday, including two counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder, and six counts of second-degree possession of a firearm.
Holmes was also charged with one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and one count of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, a press release revealed. The 21-year-old man is accused of killing two people and injuring several others at a ‘90s-themed birthday party in May. Authorities are still searching for additional suspects in the birthday party shooting.
According to officials, 11 people were injured during the tragic shooting in Fairfield Township, and three were killed. Zedekiah G. Holmes’ 19-year-old sister, Braylin Holmes, was killed in the birthday party shooting. Investigators do not believe Holmes killed his sister. Police suspect multiple other gunmen opened fire during the party.
During the press conference Thursday, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae explained that “Holmes is alleged to have been at the home and in the proximity of numerous 45-caliber shell casings.” Webb-McRae also announced five other people were arrested in connection with the Fairfield Township shooting.
Arthur Armstead, 28, Priscilla Armstead, 46, Tasia Coleman, 27, Tazshaina Sadler, 28, and Aladrienne Milbourne, 31, were all charged with various counts of hindering apprehension, obstruction and tampering with evidence. It is unclear if the individuals interfered with Zedekiah G. Holmes’ arrest or the arrest of a separate suspect.
The tragic incident reportedly began at around 11:30 p.m. at a house on East Commerce Street in Fairfield Township. Attendees from a separate gathering infiltrated the ‘90s-themed birthday party. It isn’t clear what sparked the birthday party shooting, though witnesses claim that multiple suspects began unloading their firearms at guests.
Police have not determined a motive in the gruesome attack. It wasn’t immediately clear if the incident was gang-related.
Investigators recovered 48 shell casings from the scene. There were 14 victims with ages ranging from 19 to 35, according to reports. Several other suspects have been apprehended since the May 22 shooting.
On May 23, Kevin Dawkins was arrested in Bridgeton. He was allegedly present at the party. He is accused of discharging his handgun at guests after the initial shooting had ended. The 36-year-old was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of a large-capacity magazine, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. It isn’t clear if Dawkins injured any of the victims during the shooting.
Police officers from Bridgeton located Dawkins in the woods south of the Maplewood Gardens Apartments. Officers had responded to calls about a “suspicious and possibly armed subject in the area.”
Darrell Dawkins, 30, was also charged for unlawful possession of a handgun. Police found two of Dawkins’ handguns in the trunk of his car after searching the area following the shooting. He is not suspected of discharging any firearms during the incident.
Police are requesting assistance in apprehending the rest of the gunmen from the Fairfield Township shooting. Anyone with information that can lead to an arrest is asked to report it to authorities. Investigators are trying to understand what happened.
“The streets have been talking,” said Jennifer Webb-McRae. “Through anonymous tips and intelligence, we have a good general idea of who was involved and who was responsible for the deaths of three people and the maiming of 11 others. But having a general idea is not enough.”
She continued, explaining that “we know that there were hundreds of individuals at the party at the time of the shooting. We need those who were at the party that evening to come forward, to go on record, and to tell us who was shooting that evening.”
Zedekiah G. Holmes previously posted a tribute to his younger sister, Braylin Holmes. “I wish you was here baby it will never be the same,” he posted on Facebook in June. He tagged his late sister in the post.
In a separate post, Holmes said: “I love you baby I gotchu forever I promise.” Attached were pictures of Zedekiah G. Holmes at the memorial services for his sister. He had on a jean jacket with the words: “My sister’s keeper.”