TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that a Trenton man has pleaded guilty in a shooting he committed with a “community gun” that had been used in a prior shooting allegedly committed by members of the violent “Get Money Boys” or “GMB” gang in 2020.
Kevion Watkins, 19, of Mellon Street pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated assault for firing two bullets into a moving vehicle, striking one of the occupants in the hand following a physical altercation inside a Trenton deli last year. Watkins pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Anthony M. Massi in Mercer County on June 22, 2022. Sentencing for Watkins is scheduled for Sept. 23, 2022.
Under the plea agreement, the State will recommend a sentence of eight years in state prison, with 85 percent of the sentence – nearly seven years – to be served without parole eligibility.
“A single gun can cause significant violence and destruction when it is circulated and shared by individuals involved in criminal activity,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “The arrest and conviction of this defendant not only brings accountability for this shooting, it also cuts off access to a community gun used for multiple violent crimes.”
Watkins was arrested on October 2, 2021, by Trenton Police who responded to a ShotSpotter alert of two rounds fired on Oakland Street shortly before 10 a.m. Watkins was taken into custody after he attempted to exit an Oakland Street apartment building where he fled after the shooting. Police recovered the weapon – a silver and black 9mm Ruger with a defaced serial number – under a floor mat in a common area of the building.
The gun was later linked by ballistic testing to at least one prior shooting – a May 1, 2020 incident in which five GMB members allegedly opened fire on a group of individuals on Sanhican Drive in Trenton, wounding two men. The suspects charged in that shooting are among 20 alleged members and associates of GMB who were indicted last year in connection with multiple shootings in Trenton. Those shootings also include: the December 2019 murder of a 32-year-old man; the attempted murder of a Trenton police officer in February 2020; and a June 2020 shooting that wounded several bystanders, including a 12-year-old girl who was critically injured. Watkins, who turned 18 in August 2020, is not a defendant in that case.
“By sharing intelligence with local and county law enforcement, we were able to connect the dots to secure critical evidence linking this lone shooting to a rash of gang violence terrorizing the city of Trenton,” said Director Pearl Minato of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue working closely with our law enforcement partners throughout New Jersey and beyond to remove illegal guns from our streets and hold accountable individuals who use them to carry out their violent agendas.”
In pleading guilty, Watkins admitted to firing the gun recovered by police in the direction of two individuals who were in a car, intending to cause them serious bodily harm. A surveillance camera inside the deli captured footage of the two victims involved in a physical altercation with a group of people inside the store, and then showed the pair exiting the store and getting into a blue 2017 Chevy Impala. Subsequent footage from the camera showed an individual, later identified as Watkins, running down the street while displaying a firearm and then firing two rounds into the victims’ car as it passed by him. One of the bullets struck the driver in the hand. The other occupant was not injured.
On December 8, 2021, a Grand Jury indicted Watkins on two counts of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree aggravated assaulted, and numerous weapons charges including second-degree possession, receipt, or transfer of a community gun while engaging in criminal activity. A community gun is defined by statute as a firearm that is transferred among, between, or within any association of two or more persons who, while possessing that firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.
Deputy Attorney General Karen M. Bornstein handled the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis. The case was investigated by the Trenton Police Department and the Mercer County Shooting Response Team, with Assistance from the New Jersey State Police Gangs & Organized Crime South Unit.
Assistant Public Defender Melissa Karabulut.