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August 12, 2021

Alleged gunman in fatal shootings at South Jersey birthday party charged with murder counts

Zedekiah Holmes, of Millville, allegedly killed Kevin Elliot and Asia Hester on May 22

Investigations Homicides
Zedekiah Holmes arrest Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Zedekiah Holmes, of Millville, has been charged with murder for allegedly shooting Bridgeton residents Kevin Elliot and Asia Hester during a birthday party in Fairfield Township, N.J. on May 22.

A 21-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on murder charges stemming from a mass shooting that left three people dead and 11 others wounded at a birthday party in Cumberland County. 

Zedekiah Holmes, of Millville, was charged with first degree murder for allegedly killing Bridgeton residents Kevin Elliot, 30, and Asia Hester, 25, according to the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office. He also is accused of shooting four other people at the May 22 party. 

Hundreds of people attended the party on the 1000 block of East Commerce Street in Fairfield Township. Shots rang out around 11:40 p.m. Some victims were critically injured; others suffered graze wounds, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said.

Holmes' 19-year-old sister, Braylin Holmes, was injured during the shooting and later died at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. Webb-McRae said no one has been charged in connection to her death as of Thursday, according to a report from 6ABC.

Investigators found 48 shell casings at the scene and later traced them to six guns, according to Webb-McRae. Nine other guns were found at the scene, but authorities determined they were not fired that night.

Holmes was linked to the case after authorities matched some of the shell casings with casings found at the scene of an earlier shooting on South Burlington Road — for which he already has been charged, Webb-McRae said.

Holmes also was charged with four counts of attempted murder, seven firearms offenses and conspiracy to commit murder. His first court hearing is expected to be held next week.

Five other people also were arrested Wednesday on charges of hindering apprehension and related offenses. They are Arthur Armstead, 28, of Millville; Priscilla Armstead, 46, of Bridgeton; Tasia Coleman, 27, of Bridgeton; Tazshaina Sadler, 28, of Bridgeton, and Aladrienne Milbourne, 31, of Millville. 

The investigation into the mass shooting, which authorities previously described as "a targeted attack,"is ongoing. Webb-McRae said authorities have conducted hundreds of interviews and are still seeking help from the public in identifying others who may have fired shots at the party.

Investigators previously arrested three others on gun charges, including half-brothers Kevin Dawkins, 36, and Darrell Dawkins, 30, of Bridgeton. They were arrested during the immediate aftermath of the shooting

Kevin Dawkins was charged with attempted murder and multiple firearms-related offenses. He allegedly fired multiple shots "at and above the crowd after the initial shooting had ended," according to Webb-McRae. Roughly 16 shots were fired from the gun investigators found in his possession, 6ABC reported. He is being held at the Cumberland County Jail pending trial.

Darrell Dawkins, for whom the party was hosted, was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun. Investigators found a pistol while serving a search warrant on his car, which was parked at the home, Webb-McRae said.

"It was determined that this handgun was not fired during the course of the shooting incident," she said.

Larry McRae, 39, was arrested June 3 on two counts of unlawful possession of a handgun after investigators found weapons while serving a search warrant on his car. The vehicle was parked outside the home where the shooting took place, Webb-McRae said. Authorities determined neither of the guns were fired that night.

McRae was released from custody on bail at the objection of the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office, according to the Inquirer.