School communities stunned by shooting in Pennsauken

PENNSAUKEN — The tragedy that happened Sept. 30 here when a father killed two of his sons and wounded a third shocked neighbors and friends and has authorities wondering why it happened.

Neighbors on Royal Avenue, a quiet middle class neighborhood, heard gunshots and screams coming from 4434 Royal. One neighbor could see the house was on fire. A young man was seen running out of the burning house, it was reported.

Police officers, who responded to a call of gunshots, saw Alfred Moton Sr., 54, in the rear of the burning house holding a .22-caliber handgun and a lighter with a can of gasoline nearby. Neighbors reportedly heard the officers shout to him to put the gun down but, instead, he went toward them and they shot and killed him.

Moton had killed Alfred Jr., 18, a 2010 graduate of Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, and a freshman at Rowan University, Glassboro, and his youngest son, Stephen, 12, a student at St. Stephen School in Pennsauken. Charles, 16, a junior at Camden Catholic, was seriously wounded and is in critical condition at Cooper University Hospital, Camden.

Leonor Moton, 48, the mother was at work at the time. Her elderly father was rescued from the home.

Thomas Kiely, principal at Camden Catholic, said the incident “was awful for the family and the community. It is a tremendous tragedy.”

On Friday morning, the day after the killings, Msgr. Andrew Martin at Camden Catholic told the students of the shooting as he led the morning prayer.

According to Kiely, the students were asked to offer prayers to God for the souls of the departed and to support the family.

To help the students cope with this catastrophe, grief counselors were in the school to talk to those who needed comfort.

“We had our own counselors,” said Kiely, “along with those from Gloucester Catholic, Bishop Eustace, and Catholic Charities. The students, for the most part, were sad over the event but there were those who were more upset than others. Especially those who were friends. They were stunned.”

“The student body was shocked,” said Patricia Higgins, principal at St. Stephen’s School.

The students met with grief counselors from Catholic Charities and with the Traumatic Loss Coalition of Camden County which is sponsored by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

“It’s geared primarily for young people,” said Higgins. “The students exchanged fond memories of Stephen and created letters addressed to him to tell him how much they cared for him and that he would be missed.”

Authorities are in a quandary as to why Moton had gone on his killing rampage and why he targeted his children. A spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said they would have to wait to interview Charles to discover why the tragedy had occurred.

The three sons had been shot while in the house but two of them fled and collapsed in the street where they died.

The three brothers sang in the choir at Our Lady of Fatima/Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in South Camden. Their mother Leonor, a native of Puerto Rico, was a member of the parish while growing up in South Camden.

The Motons moved to the Pennsauken house 10 years ago.

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