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Yolanda Morales, 23, killed, 5 people wounded in shooting in Bethlehem

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 02 2012 08:51:07 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 03 2012 10:39:57 AM CST
Yolanda Morales
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Six people were gunned down early Sunday morning in a dramatic gun battle on the streets of south Bethlehem. 

One of the victims was killed, and police are trying to piece together a complicated crime scene.

The shootings happened just after 2 a.m. outside the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society, a private club on East 3rd Street. The area was crowded with people leaving several bars in the area.

"There was like 30 shots and I ducked for cover," said Jeffrey Noe, who witnessed the entire incident from the hookah lounge next door.

According to Noe, the incident started when one group attacked a man with a bat.

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"A man exited the Puerto Rican club; he was walking down the street by himself," said Noe. "A bunch of people came and started hitting him with a bat, and then there was a fight."

Noe said that's when guns got involved.

"A guy pulled a gun, fired a warning shot in the air," said Noe. "And then the first shooter shot the second shooter."

John Fisher also witnessed the shootings.

"And then after they were hitting him with a bat, there were three more gunshots, followed by four more gunshots from another gun, and another shooter in the street," he said.

Morales was a recent Lincoln Tech grad and was starting a medical assistant career, according to her sister.

Friends and relatives believe Morales was an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire.

Near the club, friends and family left candles and notes behind. One read, "Love you Yoli." Another said, "Rest with the angels."

The Puerto Rican Beneficial Society has several surveillance cameras, but it's not clear if they captured any of the shootings. A representative of the club declined to comment Sunday afternoon.

Regular patrons said the club has tight security, and questioned how someone could bring guns inside.

"There is a metal detector, and security," said Vivian Maldonado. "As soon as you walk in, they do check you, and through the whole floor, through the whole club, there is security all over."

Noe said it was a chaotic scene.

"Everybody was just trying to take care of their friends, see if they were alright," he said.

About 30 minutes after the shooting, officers raced to another call on Wyandotte Street. Callers to 911 reported hearing gunshots and seeing a man with a machete. It's not clear yet if the two incidents are related.

Northampton Co. District Attorney John Morganelli said he believes all the suspected shooters are still in the hospital. Police said their conditions range from serious to critical. Morganelli plans to meet with investigators Monday morning to discuss possible charges.

An autopsy will be performed on Morales on Monday. Her funeral is set for Saturday, according to relatives.