A party at 174 S. Grant St. in Wilkes-Barre came to an abrupt halt around 1:20 a.m. Sunday when shooting resulted in the death of a 24-year-old in the backyard.
Police were called to the house on a report of a “large fight with shots fired” and found Vaughn Kemp lying motionless in the backyard.
Kemp, a black man who lived a few blocks away on Park Avenue, was transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy concluded Kemp died from multiple gunshot wounds, said Luzerne County Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes.
Kemp’s family members and friends gathered in and around his Park Avenue residence but declined to speak about him Sunday afternoon or later that night.
“Please leave us alone. Please respect us in dealing with our loss,” said a woman identified by others as his mother.
Kemp’s residence is listed under the ownership of Sherryl Kemp. His profile on the Facebook social networking site said he previously resided in Newark, N.J.
The primary occupant of 174 S. Grant St. also declined to identify herself.
The double-block is owned by Griselda Urena and Jose Rosario of Connecticut, but they rent the property to tenants.
A woman who rents the property does not speak English but said through a bilingual friend that she hosted a party but did not know or invite Kemp or anyone involved in the shooting to the party. Some strangers appeared because someone listed the party on Facebook, she said.
The woman, a mother, said the party was her belated birthday celebration. Partygoers heard shots out front but initially thought they were fireworks, she said. They observed people shooting on Grant Street but did not know anyone was hit until police informed them a victim was in the backyard, she said through the translator.
It’s unclear if the woman had any tie to Junior Alberto Diaz Reyes, who was reported living at the same Grant Street address. Diaz Reyes, 26, was convicted of simple assault and disorderly conduct in April after prosecutors said he slashed a 16-year-old boy in the head with a machete during an argument.
Police said all people who were at the scene of the Kemp shooting and party were identified and interviewed, though no suspects were in custody as of Sunday afternoon.
County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said the preliminary investigation indicates Kemp was targeted.
“It was not a random act. We believe the people knew each other,” she said.
Salavantis said there were “a lot of people in the area” at the time of shooting.
Anyone with information is asked to contact city police at 208-4200 or 208-4228.