Updated: Dec 5, 2019
One Egg Harbor City family says they were terrified when they found themselves in the middle of a multi-agency raid early Thursday morning. Sixteen people were arrested for trafficking drugs and guns in several raids last week. But when officers descended on a home on Cincinnati Avenue, they were one house off, according to the residents who wound up with guns pointed at them before police realized they were at the wrong home. Carla Weldon, 29, was upstairs when her 15-year-old cousin opened the door and was met with nearly a dozen officers, she said. Weldon was upstairs when she heard men yelling and saw officers holding guns as flashlights lit up her pre-dawn home. “One officer yelled, ‘Who’s so and so?” Weldon said, unable to recall a name she says she didn’t know. As she came down the stairs, she saw one gun pointed at her 12-year-old cousin and three at the older girl. Their 10- and 7-year-old sisters were sitting on the couch crying. The couple’s 1-year-old son slept through the incident, while their 2-year-old daughter was carried down the stairs by a police officer. The four older girls have been with Weldon and her boyfriend, Troy Sessoms, for about a year after they were placed there by the Department of Children Protection and Permanency. “This was their safe place,” Weldon said of the girls who already had their lives disrupted. Now they don’t feel safe.” One officer kicked in the upstairs bedroom where the three youngest girls sleep. No one was in there at the time. There are cracks in either side of the door and it doesn’t close fully, Sessoms pointed out. A short time later, the police realized they had the wrong home and left. “That’s something none of us is ever going to forget,” Weldon said. She spoke with a captain from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday, and was told he would look into what happened. While he wasn’t justifying the actions, Weldon said he told her that with big investigations like this, there are sometimes mistakes. She said she was glad it was being looked into. “I understand people make mistakes,” said Sessoms, 32. “But they could have apologized.”
The 7-year-old wrote a letter and drew a picture to show how she was affected. “I heard cops come … and they had guns in (their) hands and flashlights,” she wrote. Underneath is a drawing of the four girls and a man holding a gun under the word “sad.” The next photo shows two girls smiling, “Happy on the bus.” The investigation resulted in the seizure of 21 firearms, more than 10,000 bags of heroin and fentanyl and 10 ounces of cocaine. The alleged leader, Kenneth Burrell, 39, of Egg Harbor City, and others still jailed will be in court Wednesday morning for detention hearings as the state moves to hold them until trial.