2013 was a bad year for Wilkes-Barre.
According to FBI statistics and published reports, it was more likely for someone to be killed in the Diamond City than in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago or Pittsburgh.
It was a startling fact for locals to share with others.
Fast forward to April 2015, and seven people were shot in a matter of five days.
Despite the shootings, Wilkes University’s Director of Public Safety, Chris Jaego, wants to reassure students of their safety.
“We work closely with the city police and feed them information about what we see and hear and they do the same with us,” he said.
In a press conference, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said saturation patrols are continuing throughout the city. The city is also working closely with the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.
Tony George, a former Wilkes-Barre police chief who is running this year for mayor of the city, described Wilkes-Barre as being in “a crisis of violence and lawlessness,” according to press release published on his Facebook page. Leighton is not running again for mayor.
In a press conference, Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Robert Hughes was quick to argue against accusations that shoddy police work is to blame for the shooting.
“It’s not a lack of law enforcement. We’re out there; our officers and our detectives are out there,” Hughes said.
“We’re aggressively targeting crime. Specifically drug crimes, which we know a lot of times lead to this type of violent crime.”
Lt. Philip Miller of Wilkes’ Public Safety explained the campus is a safe place.
“The downtown area where we’re based out of is generally safe. It’s populated by a lot of people outside of the area coming to shop, go to the movies, students frequent it.” Miller stated.
According to police and published reports:
The first bullet that hit was fired around 10 p.m. on April 1. Jason Khaleen-Rowe, 25, of Bronx, New York, died in the hospital the following Friday of a single gunshot wound to the pelvis, Wilkes-Barre police said.
Also on April 3, Peter Bielecki Jr., 49, was found dead inside his Carey Avenue home, reportedly shot.
Earlier that day, two men were shot outside of Club Envy on South Main Street shortly after 4 a.m. Their names were not available as of Friday.
A man and woman were shot inside of Interfaith Apartments off of Coal St. on April 4.
Around 1:30 a.m. on April 6, police responded to a call of a man shot outside Boulevard Townhomes on South Welles Street.