Trenton shooting at arts festival injures 22; suspect killed

TRENTON, N.J. -- Twenty-two people including a child were injured and one of the suspected gunmen was killed after gunfire broke out during a 24-hour arts festival in Trenton, New Jersey.

During a Sunday morning press conference, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said officials believe an officer shot the deceased suspect. The Mercer County's Prosecutors Office Homicide Task Force has taken over the investigation due to the officer-involved shooting.

Seventeen of those injured suffered gunshot wounds, Onofri said. A 13-year-old boy and three other people are in critical condition.

The number of injured rose from 20 to 22 after Onofri announced two more victims arrived at area hospitals. He said a male victim suffered a grazed gunshot wound. A female victim was hiding behind a vehicle. When the driver of the vehicle took off, she was thrown and sustained bruising to her scalp.
"It absolutely could have been worst given the confined space and the number of shots that appeared to have been fired," Onofri said.

The shooting happened around 2:45 a.m. Sunday at the 'Art All Night Trenton 2018' festival at the Roebling Wire Works Building on the 600 block of South Clinton Avenue.

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Action Cam: Scene of shooting at Trenton arts festival on June 17, 2018.

Onofri says multiple individuals who were attending the event opened fire in the venue. Several weapons have been recovered.

Authorities have identified at least two suspects in the shooting. One, a 33-year-old man, was shot and killed; the other was taken into police custody. They say there could be more suspects and are questioning witnesses.

Onofri said numerous fights inside and outside the venue had prompted police to tell organizers that the event needed to be shut down.

"There was a report that the mood inside the venue had been changing," Onofri said. "During that time period, prior to the shooting, the Trenton Police Department began dispersing individuals. Those individuals, however, continued to loiter and additional fights broke out."

Authorities believe several neighborhood gangs had a dispute, and multiple suspects began shooting at each other, with police returning fire, Onofri said.

Tahaij Wells, 33, the suspect who was killed, had recently been released from prison and was on parole since February on homicide-related charges, Onofri said. Another suspect, 23-year-old Amir Armstrong, remained hospitalized in stable condition and was charged with a weapons offense. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney who could comment. A third suspect remained in critical condition.

Gennie Darisme was getting ready to leave the festival when she heard gunfire and saw people running.

"There were people trampling other people, cars hitting other cars," she said.

When she was walking back to her car after the gunfire stopped, Darisme said she saw someone bleeding on the ground, in handcuffs.

"People were running to him, trying to see his face, to see if he's a family member or a friend," she said.

Theresa Brown, who has been volunteering at Art All Night for 12 years, said she was leaving her volunteer shift when she heard "pop, pop, pop. I thought it was a car backfiring," she said.

Irving Higginbotham was one of those injured. He said he was shot four times.

"Everybody was having a nice time. The next thing you know, there were gunshots, got shot in the leg, fell on the ground, and that was it," Higginbotham said.

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Shooting at Trenton arts festival, 20 injured. Bob Brooks reports during Action News Mornings on June 17, 2018.

"And all of a sudden, my brother goes to me, 'You hear that gunfire?' I go, 'It sounds like fireworks.' He said, 'No, that's gunfire.' Next thing you know, we turn around and everybody's running down the street. All hell broke loose," resident Angelo Nicolo said.

Nicolo said he saw one person with a gunshot wound to the leg.

"I saw two police officers escort a guy that got shot in the leg; they bandaged him up and whisked him away before the ambulance came here. It was pretty gnarly," Nicolo said.

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Witness video shows the aftermath of a shooting at a Trenton, New Jersey, arts festival that left one suspect dead and 22 people injured.

Trenton fire crews as well as medics, including some from Bucks County, Pa., were called to the scene. The ATF is also assisting with the investigation.
Officials are also investigating reports of an attempted carjacking that occurred nearby. They say a man approached three people in a vehicle in the aftermath of the shooting. At the time, officials say, the man may or may not have pointed a gun at the people in the car. The vehicle sustained some damage. Authorities have not released any further details in that incident, and are looking into whether it is connected to the arts festival shooting.

The Art All Night Trenton 2018 event started 3 p.m. Saturday and was scheduled to run until 3 p.m. Sunday. The festival showcased 1,500 pieces of local art, live murals, live art instructions and 60 plus musical acts performing on three stages.

Officials say approximately 1,000 people were in the area at the time of the shooting, and there were no metal detectors at the building.

Art All Night Trenton organizers posted their reaction to the shooting on social media:

"It's with great regret that we announce that the remainder of Art All Night has been cancelled due to a tragic incident that occurred overnight.

We're still processing much of this and we don't have many answers at this time but please know that our staff, our volunteers, our artists and musicians all seem to be healthy and accounted for. Our sincere, heartfelt sympathies are with those who were injured.

We know there are a lot of questions and a lot of speculation at this point. We're still trying ourselves to piece this entire situation together. What we do know is that we are currently unable to release any submitted artwork that is currently inside the Roebling Wire Works building. That being said, we promise you we'll be in touch as soon as we have more questions we information on this. We truly appreciate your understanding and patience during this incredibly difficult and confusing situation.

We're very shocked. We're deeply saddened. Our hearts ache and our eyes are blurry but our dedication and resolve to building a better Trenton through community, creativity and inspiration will never fade. Not tonight. Not ever."

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20 injured in Trenton arts festival shooting. Bob Brooks reports during Action News Mornings on June 17, 2018.

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Officials give update on Trenton arts festival shooting on June 17, 2018.

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1 dead, 20 injured in Trenton arts festival shooting. Bob Brooks reports during Action News Mornings on June 17, 2018.

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Gunfire at Trenton arts festival. Nydia Han and Gray Hall report during Action News Mornings on June 17, 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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