A view east along West Westside Avenue, the scene of Tuesday night’s shooting, in which a parked car was struck by two bullets and at least eight shots were fired. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Off-duty Red Bank police officers out delivering Christmas presents for the PBA heard the gunfire in Monday night’s shooting on the West Side, police Chief Darren McConnell tells redbankgreen.
“They were literally a block and half away” and immediately responded to the scene, on West Westside Avenue just a few doors east of Leighton Avenue, arriving even before nearby residents had called in the 8:39 p.m. shots, he said.
By the time they got there, however, the shooter or shooters, and any intended targets, were gone, McConnell said.
No one is known to have been injured, and a lone parked car belonging to a neighbor was struck by two bullets. Police have ruled out any involvement by the car’s owner, he said.
Witnesses reported several vehicles leaving the scene, but “we have no idea” how many may have been involved, he said.
Expounding on a comment by Mayor Pasquale Menna that the shooting was a “targeted,” rather than random, incident, McConnell said police are “not sure if the the intended target was a car or person. We know we have no victims.”
Police found eight shell casings, and several spent projectiles. The number of weapons used was not immediately known, McConnell said.
Police are sorting through accounts of callers and searching for any video that might show cars coming and going from the neighborhood, he said.
The shooting was the third within a three-block area since early November, and the fourth since April. Authorities believe all are part of a tit-for-tat turf squabble, though whether it is over drugs, gang turf or something else is a mystery, McConnell said.
On November 6, Leon Veney, 29, of Red Bank, and Angelique Morris, 23, of Tinton Falls, were shot and critically injured as they sat in a pickup truck on West Sunset Avenue at about 8:30 p.m.
Two days later, a parked car was riddled with bullets three blocks north on River Street in broad daylight. Police said at the time that it was unclear if anyone was in the car, let alone shot, in the incident.
The November 6 shooting is believed to be related to the April shooting of Veney’s 28-year-old brother, Perry. He was shot multiple times as he sat behind the wheel of a car on Willow Street.
Anthony Sims, 25, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to shooting two men at the at the Montgomery Terrace public housing apartments on the borough’s West Side three years earlier, is under indictment and in custody for the Perry Veney shooting.
McConnell said Leon Veney has been released from Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune and may now be in a long-term care facility. Morris was released from the same hospital earlier.
The two “cooperated, moderately,” with investigators, he said, though neither has identified their assailant or assailants.
Police have stepped up patrols in the area, McConnell said. “They’re out there, and they’ll remain out there,” he said, adding that he has asked the Monmouth County Prosecutor and Sheriff for additional resources. But the sporadic timing of the incidents poses a challenge.
Noting the months between the two Veney shootings, and the fact that one of the last three incidents was in broad daylight reveals “no close pattern that you can be prepared for,” he said.
McConnell said he and Menna administration officials “are talking about setting up a meeting for the community” to discuss the situation. “We want to do it in a timely fashion, but be sensitive to the fact that people have Christmas plans, too,” he said.
“I understand the concern,” of neighbors, some of who were sharply critical of Menna and the borough council for a lack of communication last month, he said. “When somebody’s shooting multiple rounds in the street, it is a danger to the public.”