Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

Virginian jailed in N.J. shooting

by The Associated Press | June 1, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A church associate of a pastor and town councilwoman who was gunned down in her SUV outside her home in February has been arrested on murder and gun charges, New Jersey prosecutors said.

Rashid Ali Bynum, 28, of Portsmouth, Va., was linked to the death of Sayreville Councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour, 30, after investigators traced his travels from his phone and vehicle location data Feb. 1, Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone said Tuesday.

Ciccone said Bynum also matched the description of the gunman given by neighbors in Sayreville, where Dwumfour had served on the council for about a year.

The announcement came nearly four months after Dwumfour was found gunned down, with her 11-year-old daughter hearing the shots from inside their home. Her death sent the community reeling.

Dwumfour was a pastor in a prosperity gospel church, Champions Royal Assembly, that is based in Nigeria, and she got married there in November to a fellow pastor from Abuja. She was also an officer of a related entity, the Fire Congress Fellowship, that has a branch in Virginia. Bynum was listed in her phone contacts under that group’s acronym.

Court records and tax filings suggest that church finances in the U.S. were tight. Dwumfour had been named in a series of landlord-tenant disputes in Newark dating from 2017-20 involving the fellowship, which had seen its income drop from about $250,000 in 2017 to just $350 in 2020.

Dwumfour, who grew up in Newark, had lived in Virginia at one point, and family lawyer John Wisniewski said Bynum had lived in Sayreville. But beyond that, he did not know the nature of their relationship and the prosecutor declined to discuss a possible motive.

Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick — a political ally who decided not to run for reelection as the slaying went unsolved — took some comfort that the killing did not appear politically motivated, but was troubled by the apparent link to a church to which Dwumfour was deeply devoted.

“The fact that it was connected to that component of her life is even more saddening to me, because you look to God for light and protection. So to know that that was the connection hurts, but at the same time, evil can lurk anywhere,” she said.

Dwumfour’s father and family pastor welcome the arrest, Wisniewski said, but they have “even more questions today than there were before.” Dwumfour’s husband, Peter Ezechukwu, is no longer in the U.S.

“We have an alleged murderer in custody in Virginia, but now they are trying to also understand the relationship, how this person came to target Eunice, what was the rationale,” Wisniewski said.

Dwumfour, a Republican, was elected to her first three-year term in 2021, when she ousted a Democratic incumbent. Colleagues recalled her as soft-spoken and a devout Christian who could maintain her composure in contentious situations.


Sponsor Content