Trenton churchgoer escapes drive-by shooting

TRENTON NJ - October 15, 2012

Picture this: it was a sunny afternoon, church services had just gotten out when gunfire erupts. People are ducking trying to take cover when 1 man who'd just left church appeared to be hit.

"Oh, he was one scared, shaken-up person," according to Bishop Joseph Ravenall of the Samaritan Baptist Church. "He thought he was shot."

Bishop Ravenell says it was early Sunday afternoon when services at Samaritan Baptist had just gotten out. One of his congregants was less than a block away on Martin Luther King Blvd. when gunfire erupted from a vehicle police describe as a red minivan passing by.

"I heard the gunshots when the door had opened up and some of the children had went out and you heard a lot of gunfire," said Minister Phillip Ravenall.

Police say numerous shots were fired. At least 3 punctured the side of a nearby van. Other bullets took out car windows, which still lay in the street Monday afternoon.

A church member identified by his ministers as Matthew Harris ran back to Samaritan Baptist, believing he'd been hit by a stray bullet. Turned out it was shrapnel kicked up by gunfire ricocheting in the area that hit him in the face.

His nose was busted and he was bloodied but not seriously injured. Police do not believe he was the intended target.

"Something has gone seriously awry when you can't go to church and got to fear for your life going to church," said Al Ward, the local crimewatch president.

The bishop says it's had a serious effect on attendance. They used to get 300 on a Sunday. Now just 75 or 100 people are there for services. Police are looking into whether the shooting is gang related and anyone with information is asked to give them a call.

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