10/08/2012 05:35 pm ET

Camden Police Hunt Masked Man Who Wounded Three, Killed Two In 'Senseless' Shooting

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Police continued their hunt on Monday for a masked man armed with a gun and machete who shot five young people in a parked car late Saturday night, killing two and seriously injuring three.

The killer drove the car a short distance with four of the victims inside, before abandoning it on a dirt road on the city's south side, police said.

The carnage was remarkable even for Camden, long one of the poorest and most violent cities in the country. The victims, all under age 21, were not involved in illegal activity, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said on Monday.

"This was not an act of gang violence. It was not a drug deal gone bad," Thomson said outside Camden City Hall. "It was a complete act of senselessness."

Thomson said investigators were still probing for the the motive of the slaying.

The mass shooting brought Camden's homicide total to 50 for the year, putting the city on pace to break its all-time record of 58 killings from 1995. Camden, population 80,000, is the poorest city in the country, according to the most recent Census data, and has struggled with high rates of crime for decades.

This year's killings have been marked since early October with individual, hand-painted crosses planted in the lawn outside of City Hall. Two more crosses were added to the memorial under an overcast sky on Monday by anti-violence activists.

Those killed were identified as Jewel Manire, 18, and Khalil Gibson, 20. Two women, aged 20 and 16, remain in critical condition in a local hospital after being shot in the face and head. Another 16-year-old girl was shot in the arm and shoulder.

Gibson was studying business administration at an area community college and recently began working at Taco Bell, said Holly Walker, a close friend of the family who has known him since birth.

"He was going to treat his whole family to dinner off his first big paycheck," she said.

Walker said Gibson's mother was crushed by her son's death.

"He was killed for nothing. That's all she can say," Walker said. "They've got to catch this guy."

The five victims were sitting in a parked Chevrolet in an alley on Camden's south side just before midnight on Saturday, when a man walked up to the car, opened the driver's side door and began shooting, police said. The group had just spent the evening at a local roller rink, according to Walker.

The shooter was described as six foot tall Hispanic man, wearing yellow latex gloves and a black mask around the lower part of his face. He carried a gun and a machete, according to police.

Thomson said that detectives were pursuing several leads in their search for the shooter. "We're going to find him," he said.