N.J. firehouse struck by bullet for second time in 2 months

The bullet struck a window over the watch desk and lodged in a binder


Kevin Shea
nj.com

TRENTON, N.J. — A shooting in Trenton’s West Ward Thursday afternoon caused a bullet to crash through a firehouse window, the second such instance in as many months, officials said.

This shooting, at about 4:25 p.m., did not injure anyone. In late April, city firefighter Kevin Soto was wounded in the arm when a bullet pierced a window at the Calhoun Street firehouse.

The Thursday gunfire left a bullet hole in a window in the front of the West Ward Firehouse, home to Engine 9. It struck a window over the watch desk, where firefighters rotate manning to answer phone calls, greet visitors and other matters, firefighters say. Nobody was at the desk at that moment, and the bullet lodged in a binder.

Trenton police spokesperson Lt. Bethesda Stokes said officers were alerted to the incident by ShotSpotter, the city’s gunfire detection system, which recorded eight shots in the area. An investigation is ongoing.

The firehouse, at the corner of West State Street and Lee Avenue, is the newest in the city, opening in 2003.

Soto, the firefighter wounded in late April, who is also a union official and spokesman, responded to Thursday’s shooting by saying it may be time to install bulletproof windows in city firehouses. (Firefighters are issued bulletproof vests for emergency calls.)

He said he signed up to be a firefighter to save lives, and he understands his life is at risk when he enters a burning building or is otherwise on a call while outside the firehouse. “And I’m OK with that,” he said.

“What I am not OK with is sitting at a firehouse table talking to all my brothers and sisters waiting for [a call] and end up getting shot,” Soto said. “This needs to stop. Our safety needs to be put first.”

Trenton firefighters union president, Andres Perez, echoed Soto’s remarks, saying Trenton firefighters already have a dangerous job, and should feel relatively safe in their firehouses. He said the city and fire department administrations are usually reactive.

“However, in these cases we have yet to see anything from our administration. This has been all too familiar in recent years with the uptick of crime and gunplay within the city,” Perez said. “Both police and fire seem to not have the resources nor the funding to do their jobs efficiently and safely. Even with the previous shooting [at the Calhoun Street firehouse] we have yet to do any proactive measures to help protect firefighters while within the walls of their respective stations.”

Trenton police arrested two suspects in the shooting that wounded Soto. One is charged with attempted murder.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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