TRENTON — A night of fun turned into a violent nightmare in the state’s capital city when two men in a vehicle fired into a crowd of people outside a bar, injuring five men and four women.

The shooting happened about 12:25 a.m. Saturday outside Ramoneros Liquor & Bar on Brunswick Avenue.

By Saturday evening, investigators had not identified the gunmen or their vehicle, although officials said security footage may provide some clue.

The gunmen fired at least 30 rounds. But officials were at a loss as to what motivated the shooting. Mayor Reed Gusciora suggested that it could have been a typical neighborhood gang rivalry that erupted at a watering hole where rival factions sometimes comingle.

But Police Director Sheilah Coley said it also could have been a road rage incident, citing witnesses who stated that before the gunfire erupted, the driver had been leaning on his horn.

During a news conference Saturday afternoon, Gusciora and Coley pointed to the city’s falling crime rate in the past two years while acknowledging that violence continues to plague a city beset by poverty.

Gusciora also blamed federal gun laws.

“New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but guns are easily accessible in some nearby states,” he said in a statement.

During the conference, he said it would take more than gun laws to turn around the city of nearly 85,000 people, where the median household income is less than $36,000. (By comparison, the state median is nearly double.)

“This should not be a tale of two cities where we work on economic initiatives and are moving ahead on education and other initiatives and yet many young people do not feel safe on the streets,” he said. “We have to address the socioeconomic problems. Many young people have given up hope.”

Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said the dark-colored vehicle approached the bar after traveling down Middle Rose Street from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

He did not identify the victims by name but provided their ages and injuries.

  • A 36-year-old man was shot twice and was in stable condition.
  • A 29-year-old man was shot in the lower abdomen and was in critical but stable condition.
  • A 29-year-old man was shot in the right calf and was in stable condition.
  • A 32-year-old man was shot in the right ankle and was in stable condition.
  • A 30-year-old man was shot in the buttocks and was in critical but stable condition.
  • A 29-year-old woman was grazed in her thigh and was in stable condition.
  • A 23-year-old woman was shot in the left thigh and was in stable condition.
  • A 27-year-old woman as shot in the left knee and was in stable condition.
  • A 33-year-old woman was grazed in the right calf and was in stable condition
  • A 25-year-old woman was shot in the buttocks and was in stable condition.

One victim was from Ewing, another from Willingboro; the rest were Trenton residents.

The city has recorded five homicides so far this year. The Saturday shooting drew attention for the number of victims, the most since the Art All Night Festival shooting last year that left 17 people injured and a suspect dead.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story should have said that there have been five homicides in Trenton this year.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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