Trenton mayor wants to boost police presence after shooting at back-to-school event

Trenton Police

Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013 (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Four people were wounded and a child was hit by a getaway dirt bike Saturday night in Trenton when gunfire broke out in a park as school supplies were being distributed to children.

Children and parents were in the park to pick up the free backpacks loaded with supplies, when riders of dirt bikes and ATVs faced off with each other.

It was the second public event disrupted by violence this summer in New Jersey’s capital city.

In the early hours of June 17, one person was killed and 22 injured in a shooting at Art All Night, a popular arts festival in Trenton. That shooting is believed to be gang-related, similar to the violence during the backpack giveaway, and investigators are still looking into what happened.

Trenton’s new mayor, Reed Gusciora, said he wants to increase police presence at public events. But he blames federal gun laws for the violent outbursts.

“Its unfortunate you have these peaceful festivals or gatherings in parks, and they are taken over by thugs on ATVs,” he said. “It’s indicative of violence throughout the country, and needs to be addressed by the federal government that seems to look the other way from lax gun laws.”

Gusciora, echoing a message being pushed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, pointed out that most guns used in crimes in New Jersey are either stolen or come from neighboring states with more lenient gun laws.

The mayor said he is working with Artworks: Trenton, the organization that puts on the Art All Night festival, to make sure the annual 24-hour event returns next summer. Security measures may be enhanced with perimeter fencing and metal detectors.

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