In the wee hours of the morning, Thursday, June 20, shots rang out as patrons left Allentown, PA’s Déjà vu nightclub. The shooter wounded ten and sent dozens more scrambling for cover. Police responded at 1:56 a.m. after several 911 calls in what has become a troubling neighborhood fraught with gang violence.
There have been no arrests, but officials say the incident was likely a gang hit targeting one individual and involving three different shooters. Authorities found 19 shell casings at the scene.
Callers told police that dozens of terrified people ran in every direction, some seeking cover behind vehicles. One car sped off after the gunfire subsided. A neighbor, who asked to be anonymous for fear of retaliation, said the multiple gunshots and a loud bang just outside her window woke her. She then watched the scene unfold, hearing more shots. “They were carrying friends out to get them help,” she explained.
Another neighbor to the Déjà vu night club, Tashana Santiago, told the local newspaper the same chilling story of multiple shots, absolute chaos, and someone fleeing in a vehicle. “When everything went silent all you could hear is the screaming and panicking,” she said. “All I could think was someone is dying.”
Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) tweeted: “Thankfully, there have been no fatalities. I’m keeping a close eye on the situation and praying for the victims in the hospital.”
According to Allentown Police Captain Bill Lake, the victims were taken to local hospitals and are expected to recover.
“This does not appear to be an indiscriminate shooting,” Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said in a statement. “It appears that at least one individual was a target. It is more likely than not that the outcome of the investigation will reveal a connection to gang violence.”
In an effort to ease the minds of Allentown residents, Martin added that “it does not appear that the community at large is at risk from the perpetrators involved here.”
That’s little comfort to terrified residents of a once working class and peaceful neighborhood. The area, including several bars and nightclubs, has been the scene of other recent violent incidences. It is the second shooting this month in the neighborhood: The first occurred just two days ago on Tuesday night, and saw two 19-year-olds wounded.
Allentown Rescue Mission is just a few doors down from the club and Managing director Dean Browning said the neighborhood has grown more dangerous. The mission has operated on the block for 60 years but the recent uptick in gang violence has Browning concerned for his staff and the downtrodden who call the mission home:
“I wish it weren’t like this, but this is the way our society is changing. It’s one of those unfortunate situations, but this is where we are, and we just have to hope for the best that people change.”
The sad state of Allentown isn’t bothering one man, shelter resident James Saunders, who said he slept through the barrage of bullets and sirens of first responders. In his estimation, folks are becoming accustomed to the commotion are almost immune.
“We eating breakfast and see ‘Oh, another shooting. I lived in Baltimore, I lived in Philadelphia for 10 years. This is nothing.”
And that is no less tragic than the shooting itself.
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