Police: Chester fire has link to double shooting

Chopper 6 HD was over the scene of a fire Monday afternoon at Clayton Auto in the area of 4th and Clayton streets.

May 9, 2011 3:38:20 PM PDT
Police sources say a fire at an auto garage in Chester, Pa. was an attempt to conceal evidence in a shooting that, itself, was in retaliation for a previous shooting.

The fire happened around 12:40 p.m. Monday at Clayton Auto in the area of 4th and Clayton streets.

It quickly went to three alarms.

Before long, the entire roof was gone, with the charred remains of vehicles visible from Chopper 6 HD.

Police sources tell Action News that the garage was fire-bombed in an effort to conceal evidence from a Sunday night shooting.

That shooting happened around 9:00 p.m. in the 1100 block of Johnson Street in the Sun Village section of Chester.

Police found dozens of shell casings at the scene.

"We have some young folks that are terrorizing our community; they may be residents here, they may not be," Chief Darren Alston of the Chester Police said.

Authorities say two males, ages 17 and 20, with one suffering a gunshot wound to the head, were transported to Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

Sources say one of the victims was taken off life support overnight. The other remained in critical condition Monday.

A short time after the shooting, a bullet riddled car was found abandoned on the other side of town.

A witness reported seeing a man with a gun running from the car.

That car was taken to Clayton Auto and impounded. This is the car, police say, that was set ablaze today.

Police did receive a search warrant for the car Monday, but by that time, authorities say, the car was up in flames.

"It was a very dangerous situation, particularly for the firefighters that were fighting that fire. Once we got the propane under control, we still had the hazards inside the faciliy, the paints and the thinners, that we had to contend with," Chester Fire Commissioner James Johnson said. Police sources say the Sunday night shooting was in retaliation for a high-profile shooting involving a number of teenagers at a party in Chester back in April.

The shooting at the Minaret Temple at 4th and Ward streets killed 18-year-old Robel Laboy and 19-year-old David Johnson. Eight others were injured in the gunfire.

"It spirals out of control; once they guns in their hands, it never ends," Alston said.

Police say these incidents could be a turf war or some other dispute. They do not have firm evidence of a direct connection yet, but fear all out warfare.