NEWARK, N.J. — Their lives never intersected, but they were both daughters of Newark: two successful young women nearly the same age, both with good jobs and dedicated to improving their communities. Now, both are scheduled to be buried this week.
One grew up in the city's vibrant Portuguese immigrant enclave, fulfilling a dream to work in law enforcement. The other, an award-winning young musician, was raised in and around Newark before following her family South to become a grade-school teacher in Charlottesville, Va.
Both women were killed in separate shootings over the weekend, victims of the gun violence that has plagued New Jersey's most populous city this summer, cutting short many promising lives.
Dawn Reddick, who turned 29 in July, was visiting Newark for the weekend, driving her 9-year-old nephew back home to her sister's house after he had spent the summer with family in Virginia. Reddick was with a childhood friend at Newark Chinese restaurant Friday night, waiting for a takeout order, when she was struck by bullets police said were meant for someone else. She died Saturday of her injuries.
"She was the perfect child, she was a child that anyone would love to have," James Reddick said of his daughter, as he made her funeral arrangements Monday.
Across town during Sunday's early morning hours, 32-year-old Debora Ferreira of Irvington was found shot and unresponsive in her car near a downtown Newark social club frequented by law enforcement officers. She died minutes later at a nearby hospital. The American-born daughter of immigrants from Newark's tight-knit Portuguese and Brazilian neighborhood known as The Ironbound, Ferreira was the proud mother of a 1-year-old daughter and had been an Essex County Corrections Department officer since 2007. Her killing is also under investigation.
"She was just a great kid all around, friendly, conscientious, dedicated," said Joe Amato, president of PBA Local 382, of which Ferreira was a member. "She was one of those people that drew you in; a friendly, outgoing person."
A sign on the family's home in the Ironbound asked for privacy during their time of grieving.
The killings of these two promising young women from hardworking, close-knit families has shocked even violence-weary Newark residents, as violent crime has continued to rise in the last two years after steep declines the previous two years.
The Essex County Crime Stoppers has offered $10,000 rewards in both Ferreira and Reddick's cases for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. The New Jersey state PBA is offering an additional $10,000 in Ferreira's case.
Law enforcement officials are pleading for the public's help in solving both cases. Acting Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio called Ferreira's killing "a horrific act of violence," while Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray extended her sympathy to Reddick's family. Both DeMaio and Murray said their departments were doing everything they can to solve the cases.
"This sort of random and senseless violence has to stop," Murray said.
Three others were wounded in the gunfire that killed Reddick: two adult males who were shot and remain hospitalized, and a 7-year-old girl who was grazed by a bullet.
Although Reddick didn't know the other victims, her father believes his daughter may have died trying to protect the little girl.
"She just loved kids, so when I heard the news she was trying to protect the little 7-year-old, that really made sense to me," he said. "I really hate that she had to lose her life over that, but that's her: to protect children."
Reddick described his daughter as devoted to her students at the Clark Elementary School in Charlottesville, where she taught 3rd grade and won the 2011 Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching.
Talented musically, Reddick graduated from Newark's Arts High School, winning a prestigious citywide jazz competition twice and placing as runner-up another year, according to her father. After James Reddick retired from a grocery distribution company and her mother from the Essex County Board of Taxation, the family settled in Glen Allen, Va., with Dawn renting an apartment about 70 miles away in Charlottesville, Va. She visited her parents every weekend.
At the Promised Land Missionary Baptist Church in Newark where Dawn Reddick had played piano recitals as a child and her grandmother has been a clerk for 25 years, the Rev. Ernest L. Chamblee said Monday he was struggling to compose a funeral sermon for the same young woman he had baptized as a newborn.
"Here's a girl that grew up in the city of Newark, through all the thorns and thistles, and ups and downs, and she maintained her reputation, finished high school, and went on to college," Chamblee said. "It's very rare – we've only had about eight, 10, maybe 12 who have done such – but I've never had a church member from cradle to 29-years-old who has accomplished what this girl has accomplished."
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