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1st homicide investigation of 2012 underway in Allentown

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 07 2012 10:25:36 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 07 2012 05:15:15 PM CST

Allentown sees 1st homicide of 2012

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Last year, it took six months.  This year though, it's only taken seven days for Allentown to see its first homicide of 2012. 

Police say a man was shot to death near Fountain and Chew streets in Center City early Saturday morning.  It may be the year's first homicide, but it's the fifth in the past month in Allentown.

"Every year, more bad," said Anthony Franci, who lives near the shooting scene.  "Every year.  Everybody knows that, right? It's real bad right here."

Yellow chalk marks where several gunshots rang out just before 1 am Saturday morning.  The victim made it around the corner before collapsing in front of a bodega on West Chew Street.

"They shot the guy right there, and when they shot him I guess he walked in front of the store and passed out," said neighbor Nicholas Rodriguez, whose nieces were sleeping just across the street from the shooting.

Police have not identified the victim, but have confirmed he is an approximately 22 year-old man.

"The victim at this point is being identified as a John Doe, pending positive identification," said Assistant Chief Joe Hanna.

According to neighbors, the victim was Hispanic -- someone they'd seen around the neighborhood but didn't know.  A bouncer said the victim was at a bar at Ninth and Chew before the shooting, but said he didn't seem to run into trouble there.

"We're actively pursuing a number of leads as we speak," said Hanna.

It's not clear if the bodega's surveillance camera on Fountain Street caught the shooting on tape.  Hanna said the victim may have been targeted.

"At this point it's starting to look like it's victim specific," he said.

This is Allentown's fifth homicide in the past month.  On December 17, a woman and her boyfriend were shot to death on Hall Street as their daughter slept just feet away.  A neighbor and a 16 year-old boy have been charged with their deaths.  Three days later, a teenager was killed at Tilghaman and Jordan.  Then, just over 24 hours after that, another man was shot and killed on North 15th Street.  The boy's cousin was wounded.

"It's getting worse," said Rodrguez.  "It's just getting worse, it ain't getting any better."

Some neighbors said they saw a red sedan speed away after the gunfire, but police have not confirmed that.