A man in Virginia has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Eunice Dwumfour, a 30-year-old councilwoman who was found shot to death in her car in Sayreville, New Jersey, in February, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office announced Tuesday.
Rashid Ali Bynum, 28, has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun and second-degree possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose, Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone told a news conference.
Ciccone said Bynum was arrested outside Chesapeake City, Virginia, Tuesday morning and that authorities previously tracked Bynum’s cell phone from near the scene of the shooting and back to Virginia.
On the day of the February 1 murder, Bynum had searched the internet for details related to Dwumfour’s church, Ciccone said.
“A search of the victim’s phone revealed Bynum as a contact in Eunice Dwumfour’s phone with the acronym FCF,” the prosecutor said. “FCF is believed to be an acronym for the Fire Congress Fellowship, a church the victim was previously affiliated with, which is also associated with the Champion Royal Assembly, the victim’s church at the time of her death.”
Dwumfour, a Republican, was found by police with multiple gunshot wounds just after 7 p.m. on February 1 and was pronounced dead on scene, according to Middlesex County officials.
She was inside her car near her home when she was shot, according to CNN affiliate WABC. The vehicle then took off down the road and crashed into other parked vehicles, the affiliate reported.
Bynum is awaiting extradition from Virginia to New Jersey to face the charges, according to Ciccone. No timetable for the proceeding was provided.
CNN has been unable to determine if Bynam has an attorney.
New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin spoke directly to the Dwumfour family at the news conference, telling them it was the beginning of the healing process and a sense of justice.
“There are no words that can be said to you that can make you whole,” Platkin said Tuesday.
At the time of the murder, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called it “a shocking, awful event.”
“I’ve asked a whole bunch of electeds and folks in the know who have been around for a long time, can they ever remember a sitting elected official in the state being shot and killed, and no one can remember, I mean, this is a shocking, awful event,” Murphy said on the “Ask Governor Murphy” radio show on February 2.
“God bless this woman,” Murphy said at the time.
Within a week of Dwumfour’s murder, another New Jersey councilperson was murdered
The council member was found shot to death in a car, though that case was determined to be a murder-suicide, a spokesman for Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office told CNN.
Milford Borough Councilman Russell Heller, 51, was in the parking lot of a PSE&G energy company facility in Somerset County when a former employee approached his car and shot him, the prosecutor’s office said previously.
Police identified Heller’s shooter as former PSE&G employee Gary T. Curtis, 58, the Somerset County prosecutor’s office said.
Hours after the killing, police found Curtis in a nearby town. They found Curtis with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the prosecutor’s office said. Curtis was declared dead at the scene.