The shooting that left 22 people injured at Art All Night, a 24-hour arts festival in Trenton, is still under investigation this morning as police continue to talk to witnesses.
The incident began around 2:45 a.m. on June 17 at the Roebling Wire Works Building on South Clinton Avenue. Authorities said multiple people began shooting at each other inside the festival grounds.
Twenty-two people were injured during the incident, and 17 people suffered gunshot wounds. A 13-year-old boy and three others were initially listed in critical condition, but they have since been updated to stable condition, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said.
During a press conference, Onofri said authorities believe the shooting was a gang-related dispute and the arts festival was not specifically targeted. One of the suspects, 33-year-old Tahaji Wells, was shot and killed by police.
Wells allegedly exchanged gunfire with two other suspects, according to police. Authorities said Wells had a handgun with an extended magazine that is illegal in the State of New Jersey. Onofri added that two other suspects, Amir Armstrong and another unnamed suspect, were taken to the hospital and are in stable and critical condition.
Approximately 1,000 people were in the festival area when the shooting occurred, according to authorities.
Onofri said members of the Trenton Police Department told event organizers that the festival needed to be shut down prior to the shooting because of a report that the mood inside the venue had changed. According to witnesses, multiple physical altercations broke out inside and outside the festival venue.
While the festival was in the process of being shut down when the incident occurred, witnesses told 6ABC that the shooting unfolded quickly.
“All of the sudden, inside the doorway about 10 shots went off. Like pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow… and everyone started running,” one witness told 6ABC.
Art All Night organizers cancelled the rest of the festival and released a statement on their Facebook page:
“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’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.”
Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson called the shooting a public health issue in a statement.
“All shootings — whether multiple or singular, whether in a city or a suburb — are a crisis,” Jackson said. “In Trenton we have been tackling this issue for quite some time. This can’t be discarded as just random violence; this is a public health issue. We have to work cooperatively and collaboratively with parents and law enforcement to end this gun violence and destruction in our towns.”
Mayor-elect Reed Gusciora said in a statement that reevaluating security measures will be a top priority for his administration.