Man accused of killing Sayreville councilwoman had falling-out with her church


The man accused of shooting Sayreville Councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour earlier this year will remain in jail ahead of a trial after an emotional detention hearing in New Brunswick where additional details about their relationship were revealed.

Rashid Ali Bynum pleaded not guilty in Superior Court in Middlesex County Monday August 28 morning, nearly three months after his arrest and more than six months after allegedly killing Dwumfour outside of her Sayreville apartment. Bynum, 28, of Virginia, was ordered to remain in jail as murder and weapons charges against him are pending, with Judge Joseph Paone citing the “brutally horrific” nature of the alleged crime.

The detention hearing in the New Brunswick courtroom was unusually long, ending with an outburst and brief scuffle in the area where Dwumfour’s family and friends were seated as Bynum was about to be escorted out of the courtroom. One person was detained by a sheriff’s officer while Bynum left and the courtroom emptied.

While it was previously reported that Dwumfour and Bynum knew each other through a church Bible study group called Fire Congress Fellowship, additional details on their relationship were revealed in court. The councilwoman had been a leader in the Champions Royal Assembly in Newark, an offshoot of a megachurch based in Nigeria. Fire Congress Fellowship was a Bible study organization that she had created.

Dwumfour recruited Bynum to the church while both were living in Virginia, Assistant Prosecutor Amber Gibbs said. The two returned to New Jersey, where Dwumfour had previously lived, and Bynum lived with Dwumfour for a period of time, Gibbs said.

But the relationship between Bynum and the church quickly soured, Gibbs said. Bynum went back to Virginia shortly after that.

It remains unclear what might have motivated Bynum to allegedly return to New Jersey and shoot Dwumfour outside her home. As Byrum was being escorted out of the court, a loud thud could be heard behind Bynum, followed by a small scuffle. Dwumfour’s mother, Mary, sitting in the front row was leaning over the barrier as sheriff’s officers quickly approached. She was asked to stay behind while other family members filed out of the courtroom.

Mary was handcuffed and taken into processing at the courthouse to be charged with a disorderly person’s offense in municipal court, said local attorney and former state assemblyman John Wisniewski in a press conference after the hearing.

“I think it was unfortunate and I think the Sheriff’s Office should’ve used better judgment,” Wisniewski said. “The entire family is very emotional,” said Wisniewski, adding Monday was the first time they were “in close proximity” with the person who allegedly killed Dwumfour. “It’s very traumatic and very upsetting for them.”

On the evening of Feb. 1, residents of the townhouse complex in Central Jersey where Dwumfour lived said they saw a man argue with her at the driver’s side window on the night of the murder and then heard at least six shots.

The councilwoman was found with multiple gunshot wounds in her white Nissan SUV that rolled down the hill on Check Avenue near her townhome before crashing into two other parked vehicles on Samuel Drive. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to authorities. One witness who called 911 described a figure escaping over a brick retaining wall separating the complex from the Garden State Parkway.

Bynum, of Portsmouth, Virginia, was arrested in May outside a residence in Chesapeake City, Virginia, without incident, officials said. During the detention hearing, Bynum sat silently, his head tucked down and face hidden behind his hair. He did not move as Dwumfour’s family and friends sobbed openly in the row behind him and his lawyers spoke to the judge.

The detention hearing, which is typically held within the first week of a defendant being charged, had already been postponed several times, said Bynum’s lawyer, Thomas Ashley. He attempted to argue for another postponement, saying Bynum’s defense team did not have enough time to review the evidence and a month was not enough time to prepare for the detention hearing.

“The defendant does not have the right to delay proceedings and stop this case from moving forward,” said Gibbs, the assistant prosecutor. Bynum’s lawyer argued that the evidence detailed in the state’s probable cause affidavit — a document that lays out why a defendant is being charged with a crime — was circumstantial and did not prove the defendant had killed Dwumfour.

Gibbs said Dwumfour was shot 14 times while sitting in her car outside of her apartment, just moments after her daughter and a friend had gotten out of the car. Members of Dwumfour’s family cried openly as the assistant prosecutor spoke, wiping away tears as sheriff’s officers offered them boxes of tissues.

“Jesus,” a family member said, crying as Gibbs gave details of the shooting.

Bynum had an extensive criminal history, including two restraining orders taken out against him after Dwumfour’s death, and a previous failure to appear in court, making him a danger to the community, Gibbs argued. Bynum’s next court date is scheduled for Oct. 30.


Posted by on Aug 30 2023. Filed under Breaking News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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