Orange, New Jersey Detective Kieran Shields was pronounced dead on Tuesday at University Hospital in Newark. A shotgun blast, aimed from above in an ambush-style slaying, penetrated his neck and shattered his collarbone just missing the protection of his bullet-proof vest.
Detective Shields, 32, had a cop for a father and he was a man of the community who cared about his neighbors and the victims of the crimes he investigated. He earned his Detective badge in 2004 by rescuing a missing girl who was the focus of an Amber Alert. He leaves behind a wife, two young daughters and a four-month-old son. Juan Guerra described his boyhood friend:
“Throughout life you have men who plant trees so that other men can have shade. That’s what Kieran was. He planted trees and all of us got underneath them.“
Detective Shields’ alleged killer is Bloods gang member Raynard “Trouble” Brown, 19, who, according to his mother, Cynthia, came home at age 11 wearing the colors of the Bloods gang. She made him take off the shirt but the impression was already made:
“He was just a frightened soul who wanted to fit in and get along. He always wanted attention.”
This is what can happen in the urban core when the streets mold the child into a man. Trouble Brown was arrested seven times as a juvenile and spent two years in the New Jersey Training School for Boys. He was released from that Jamesburg institution the same year Kieran Shields became a Detective.
At the time of his arrest on Tuesday, Trouble Brown was out on $25,000 bail and awaiting trial on robbery and weapons possession charges from 2005. Brown’s bail is now set at $3,000,000 as he sits in jail charged with murder. Trouble leaves behind a 20-month-old daughter and a second unborn child growing in his girlfriend’s womb. Friends of Trouble Brown claim the killing was a case of mistaken identity.
Brown was being chased by another man over the last two weeks. There were gunshots fired in the neighborhood the fateful night that caused the call for help that sent Detective Shields — in plainclothes but wearing his badge — to what would become the scene of his death. As you look at these two men, you cannot help but feel the disparity in the hope of living promised in their faces.
It’s easy to hate Trouble Brown. It’s harder to understand what led him to a shotgun and fear. Orange is a 2.2 square mile city of 29,000 residents. Over the last 54 years four officers have been killed in the line of duty. Why is Orange so troubled? To comprehend the current wrath of men we must look back to the woundings of the child.
It is in the death of Detective Shields where we must begin to see the despair of lost children who later become men of affiliations and not families. We all want to belong to something greater than us. There are those who are forced to take the belonging only the streets offer for protection from violence and hunger and from opposite — but identical — others who are harder and more desperate to survive.
Some may argue Trouble Brown was dead the day he was taken over by the streets as a child; while others are left behind to wonder what might have happened if Detective Shields had met the “frightened soul” that was Trouble Brown at age 11 and gave him the shade and the protection from the streets one man can offer another simply by planting a tree instead of picking up a shotgun.