'All hell broke loose' during New Jersey arts festival shooting, witnesses say

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 12:31 PM
Updated: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 3:22 PM

New Jersey Arts Festival Shooting

Witnesses said “all hell broke loose” early Sunday morning during a shooting at a New Jersey arts festival that resulted in the death of one of the suspects and injuries to 22 people.

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“I saw two punches and then heard several gunshots,” Trenton resident Franco Roberts told The Trentonian

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Roberts said he arrived with his girlfriend at the annual Art All Night festival around 2:30 a.m. He told The Trentonian that he had a bad feeling because there was no music playing. The festival had three stages set up for the 12th annual event and 60 bands were scheduled to play during the 24-hour event.

>> New Jersey arts festival shooting: Suspect dead, 22 hurt, police say

“There’s usually a lot of noise and a lot of music but there was none of that,” Roberts said. “Someone told us they were shutting down the whole building. Then we turned around and saw people squaring up to fight.”
Gunshots rang out moments later, Roberts told the newspaper.

Trenton resident Angelo Nicolo told WPVI said he saw one person who was shot in the leg.

“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.'” Nicolo told the television station. “Next thing you know, we turn around and everybody's running down the street. All hell broke loose.”

>> What is the Art All Night festival in Trenton?

Nicolo said he saw police officers tend to one of the wounded men.

"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 told WPVI.

Irving Higginbotham told WPVI that 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 told the television station.

“It was like. “Pow, pow, pow,’ and then I was laying on the ground,” Higginbothan told NJ.com.

Maurice Lennon told NJ.com that he was taking a look at the artwork when he heard gunfire.

“We heard the first shots ring out inside the art gallery,” Lennon said in a telephone interview with NJ.com. “The first shot, then the second shot before it resonated that ‘Wow, that’s gunfire.’ You saw the doors bust open, everyone started running out and panicking. 

“I ended up getting tripped and (I) fell and I ended up crawling.”

Edward Forchion told NJ.com he heard 26 shots that began inside a building and then continued outside. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer that “Everybody froze like deers in headlights. Then everyone started moving.”

"I'm still in shock, all that happened all around me," Forchion, 54, who took videos as the shootings occurred, told NJ.com. "There were people that fell and people stepped over them, people that ran into cars, people were scrambling.”

Some witnesses said the vibe was different at this year’s festival. Janel Frink told the Inquirer that she arrived at the event at 12:30 a.m. Sunday but decided to leave when she saw “12 to 16 teenagers running around,” along with several police and ambulances.

“I could tell something was brewing,” said Frink, 40, of Hamilton Township.

“The vibe was different last night,” Jim Doria told the Inquirer. “It was crowded. I saw a mini-altercation break out at one point.”

Doria, his wife and daughter brought three bunches of flowers to the shooting site early Sunday afternoon, the Inquirer reported.

Officials said off- and on-duty police in the area fired their service weapons as the suspects, who fled the building, were firing their weapons, NJ.com reported. Officials said the believed the deceased suspect was shot by a policeman.

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