WILKES-BARRE – One man was hospitalized in serious condition after he was shot in the stomach Thursday afternoon on Coal Street.
The unidentified victim was involved in an argument shortly after noon and dared the shooter, a witness said.
The shooting happened hours after police on an early-morning patrol heard gunshots and found one man dead and another seriously injured with a head wound about a mile away near a bar on Scott Street.
Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said she could neither confirm nor deny that the shootings were connected. But she added, We do not believe these are random acts of violence.
The witness, who asked not to be identified, said he was playing a video game in his house.
All I heard was arguing, he said. One person said, ‘Shoot me. Shoot me.' And they shot him.
The witness said he heard only one shot. It was a firecracker. It was like, ‘pop.'
The witness said he did not see who shot the man whom he found on the steps of Alan Grocery & Deli.
It looked like a .22 caliber. I saw the hole in his stomach, the witness said.
The victim was taken by ambulance to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, where police said he was in serious condition.
The brazenness of the attack surprised the witness.
They shot him in broad daylight right outside (the store), he said.
The witness did not expect it to happen on the busy street. Not in broad daylight on Coal Street, one of the most main streets in Wilkes-Barre, he said.
The owner of the grocery store, Lino Cardoso, said he was in the back dealing with a customer and did not see what happened outside. None of the people involved had been in the store, he said.
A woman who said her child attends Wilkes-Barre Academy, a few blocks away, said she was angry the school was not notified of the shooting.
Heights Elementary School, which is a few blocks away, was put on lockdown for about 90 minutes after the shooting, Principal Hal Gabriel confirmed. Gabriel said his school resource officer was notified by city police.
Cappie Evers, co-owner of Wilkes-Barre Academy, a private K-8 school with a day care attached, said she has a problem with police failing to notify her of such incidents. Even if police believe students there aren't in danger, she wants to be able to address parents' concerns and answer their questions if they learn an incident occurred near the school.
City Administrative Coordinator Drew McLaughlin said officials will look into the situation and take steps to make sure that lines of communication are open if this ever occurred again. We have school resource officers in Wilkes-Barre schools, so they get information in real time. That's one of the advantages of having WBPD in the high schools and why they knew quickly of the incident.
Times Leader staff writer Steve Mocarsky contributed to this story.