SAYREVILLE, N.J. — Eunice K. Dwumfour, a 30-year-old councilwoman serving her first term in Sayreville, N.J., was fatally shot on Wednesday night, officials said.
Officers with the Sayreville Police Department responded to reports of a shooting at 7:22 p.m. in Parlin, an unincorporated area of Sayreville, and found Ms. Dwumfour in her car with multiple gunshot wounds, according to a statement by the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The shooting took place at Camelot at La Mer, a complex of neatly kept three-story apartment buildings and duplex homes that backs up against the Garden State Parkway and is within view of the Jon Bon Jovi rest stop. On Thursday morning, investigators were searching a wooded hill near the parkway, which is accessible by foot from the neighborhood. The Sayreville police had set up a command post on Ms. Dwumfour’s street, Check Avenue. Investigators were reaching into shrubbery and bushes near the shooting, in what appeared to be a search for a weapon.
Ms. Dwumfour was found in a white vehicle, which had rolled down the avenue’s steep incline before crashing into two cars at the bottom of the hill, according to police officers at the scene. The authorities did not say whether there was a suspect in the crime and have not offered any information about a possible motive. An investigation is ongoing.
Victoria Kilpatrick, the mayor of Sayreville, said in a statement that “the fact that she was taken from us by a despicable criminal act makes this incident all the more horrifying.”
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said he was “stunned” by the “act of gun violence,” adding that Ms. Dwumfour “had already built a reputation as a committed member of the Borough Council who took her responsibility with the utmost diligence and seriousness.”
Sayreville, with a population of about 45,000 people, is in Middlesex County, about 30 miles south of Manhattan.
Kennedy O’Brien, a Republican who served as mayor of Sayreville for two decades, described Ms. Dwumfour as the embodiment of the American dream. Her roots were in Ghana, he said, but she had forged a success story that took her from Newark to suburban central New Jersey.
She remained active in her church in Newark, he said, and was “deeply faithful.”
A single mother, she had gotten married just after Thanksgiving last year.
“Self-made, self-motivated, driven, disciplined,” Mr. O’Brien said.
“She just had so much to give,” he added. “It’s just an incredible loss.”
Glenn Skarzynski, a retired Sayreville police captain who recently took over as the borough’s business administrator, said the community was reeling at the news.
He said that Ms. Dwumfour’s church, and her preteen daughter, were at the center of her life. “Her daily life was all about being a Christian first and everything else second,” he said.
Alexandra Bryan, who lives in the residential complex where the shooting occurred, said she heard something that sounded like fireworks just after 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“Two times, right after one another,” Ms. Bryan, 40, said. “Like five seconds apart.”
On Thursday morning, she went outside and spotted damage to two cars parked in the lot where the shooting took place. Other residents said the car the councilwoman was in when she was shot appeared to roll and strike the parked vehicles.
“It’s a really nice complex,” Ms. Bryan said. “Children are able to play around without parents. It’s always quiet. That’s why it’s such a shock to everybody.”
Ms. Dwumfour was elected to the Sayreville Borough Council in 2021 after she and another Republican candidate, Christian Onuoha, unseated two Democratic incumbents on the six-person council. She was serving a three-year term.
In a statement about her campaign on the Sayreville Republican Party’s website, Ms. Dwumfour said she loved and cherished Sayreville and wanted to help improve the lives of its residents. “I am fully dedicated to building a better, stronger Sayreville, and with your support, we can create a brighter future for our wonderful town,” she said.
Ms. Dwumfour, who graduated from Newark Public Schools, was a business analyst and a professional scrum master, a type of project manager, with background work in both Maryland and Virginia, according to her LinkedIn profile. In 2017, she received a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from William Paterson University of New Jersey.
Karen Bailey Bebert, the Sayreville Republican chair who was Ms. Dwumfour’s campaign manager, said in an interview on Thursday that the councilwoman was an “inspirational woman” who was excited to get into politics at a young age. She overcame challenges “with grit and a smile,” she said.
Ms. Dwumfour “took on the challenge of this leadership position at a young age and she set a great example for others to follow: If you can see me, you can be me,” Ms. Bebert said.
Derrick Bryson Taylor contributed reporting.