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Jamal Gaines was a local inspiration in Rahway, New Jersey for launching his own sneaker store boutique at 21-years-old.

So who would take his life?

A mourning family is looking for clues as to why their son was fatally shot on Friday in front of his store.

Tina Wilson, his mother, describes the young entrepreneur’s passion for shoes: “His whole life was buying sneakers, and he’d make one of us camp out in line with him when a new pair was coming out,” Wilson said.

The business guru studied books by Tony Robbins and other inspirational characters in order to start his own business. He sacrificed his entire shoe collection and worked a FedEx job to raise money to open his first store.

Gaines’ resilience paid off. He went on to co-own Irving Street sneaker boutique East Coast and partnered with three there New York area stores.

His accomplishments in such a short time are proof of the huge impact he was meant to make in the sneaker game and in business.

“He was extremely loving, and he just wanted to help people,” his mother said. “He had a big heart and was always trying to make it big to help his family. He and his sister were inseparable.”

Knowing how beloved Jamal was in his community makes pinning down a suspect or a motive even more difficult.


Anyone with information about the shooting is being urged to contact Homicide Task Force Sgt. Michael Manochio at 908-966-2287 or Detective Sofia Santos at 908-577-4256.

The Union County Crime Stoppers also are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case; tips can be given anonymously by phone at 908-654-TIPS (8477), via text message by texting “UCTIP” plus a message to 274637 (CRIMES), or online at



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Young, Black Entrepreneur Slain In New Jersey Under Mysterious Circumstances  was originally published on