Woman shot in face at Germantown’s Vernon Park after ‘verbal altercation’

A 34-year-old woman was shot once in the face after an altercation spilled over in Vernon Park on Thursday night.

According to police, officers responded to the 5700 block of Germantown Ave. for a call regarding a person with a gun just before 10:15 p.m.

Upon arrival, they found the victim in the street near the front of the park. She was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center in stable condition shortly thereafter.

The victim, whose identity was not released, told investigators that she’d been involved in a verbal confrontation with two unknown men and an unknown woman earlier.

Around 10 p.m., she walked up to Vernon Park and told a man she knew about it. The trio then arrived at the scene.

“One of the males reached into a dark-colored shopping bag, pulled out a firearm [and] fired one time striking the complainant in the face,” according to police. “The offenders then fled the area on foot.”

Police consider a 20-year-old man their “person of interest,” but no charges had been filed as of 2 p.m. Friday.

Bad with good

In recent years, civic groups and residents joined together in an effort to reclaim Vernon Park as a community gathering place.

Events like outdoor Movie Nights, greening efforts, athletics, and the installation of a “Peace Pole” have helped Vernon Park take steps toward shedding its formerly intimidating aura.

Among the groups involved is Friends of Vernon Park, of which Ruth Seeley is president.

Upon getting word of Thursday night’s shooting, she emailed group members, those who attend its meetings and officials with the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

She told NewsWorks that the park has made strides in recent years, but bad news like this still arises and has a negative impact for all.

“Unfortunately, it feeds the paranoia of naysayers who think that it’s like this everyday which, of course, it isn’t,” said Seeley, noting that she walked through Vernon Park on Friday and saw children playing soccer, people eating their lunches and a group of preschoolers being led to the playground. “Most of the time, it’s a very nice place to be.”

Hearkening back to that email thread, she referenced ongoing concerns about loitering near the Germantown Deli, which offers take-out beer directly next to the park along Germantown Ave.

The presence of police officers in cars, on bicycles and (occasionally) horseback, and seniors walking the paths toward the Center in the Park, the area’s ambience has improved, she said.

“Overall, it’s a good and comfortable place,” said Seeley, noting that discussions about a redesign next year, and improved lighting, are ongoing. “I think we’re winning the battle versus litter and bad behavior.”

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