A New Jersey community is outraged after anti-gun violence advocate Najee Seabrooks was fatally shot by police during a mental health crisis on Friday (March 3). The tragic incident unfolded around 12:30 p.m. at Seabrooks’ Paterson complex, where police say he was barricaded inside his apartment unit.
Authorities said their Emergency Response Team responded to an attempt to negotiate with the beloved father, who was considered an “emotionally disturbed person,” according to NorthJersey.com. However, after a five-hour standoff, they claim that Seabrooks let them into his home and charged at officers with a knife. Mason Maher, president of the Paterson Superior Officers police union, confirmed that two members of the force fired their weapons. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.
Paterson police killed our friend who was a father and violence interruption activist.
He worked to end gun violence only to be killed by police gun violence. https://t.co/cPosnBbtxV
— zellie (@zellieimani) March 4, 2023
“No one is taking any pleasure in what happened,” said Maher. Mayor Andre Sayegh confirmed that the officer-involved shooting is being investigated by the attorney general’s office. The beloved father’s death struck a visceral nerve within his community, where he was a member of the Paterson Healing Collective, which is a part of the New Jersey Violence Intervention and Prevention Coalition. The coalition said that Seabrooks’ death is a reminder of the need for expanded mental health resources.
“It is deeply distressing to hear that, in the midst of a mental health crisis, Najee’s team, his family, was not allowed to do the work they were trained to do. When he needed his community the most, he was denied the help he required, and the police response failed him,” said the coalition in a statement. “Najee’s death is a tragic reminder that there is still much work to be done, and we must remain committed to our efforts. We will honor his memory by carrying on the mission he dedicated his life to, and we will not rest until we have created a safer and more just community for all.”
King Najee Seabrooks would be here to shine his light if the powers that be truly cared about us. Praying for his family, community, and Paterson Healing Collective. #BlackLivesMatter
— Charlene Walker (@CharleneDWalker) March 4, 2023