WILKES-BARRE — Two Wilkes-Barre Area high schools and three elementary schools were “locked out” as city police searched for a gunman who critically injured a man in front of 62 Hutson St. on Thursday.
A man was found with gunshot wounds inside the house at about 10:45 a.m., the same time residents in the area heard five gunshots.
Police said the victim suffered “non-life threatening injuries” and was rushed to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.
Police described the gunman as a black man, about 6 feet tall, thin build, clean-shaven and bald, wearing a teal shirt, dark-colored pants and with predominant tattoos on both sides of his neck. Police believe the gunman is armed with a shotgun and is dangerous.
About eight officers and six detectives, some wearing body armor, quickly shut down Hutson Street and told residents to remain inside for their safety.
Minutes after the shooting, police positioned themselves at the front and rear doors at 86 Hutson St. with one officer carrying a battering ram used to force open locked doors. Police yelled at anyone inside to come out but received no response.
An officer stayed at 86 Hutson St. while detectives and state police Forensic Services Unit returned to 62 Hutson St.
The investigation crossed town to Carey Avenue and Walnut Street, where police believe they found the getaway vehicle, a Chevrolet Impala.
A resident of Walnut Street who asked not to be identified said he was sitting on his porch when the Chevrolet parked at about 12:30 p.m.
“I saw a guy get out. He was a black guy. He walked down this way,” the man said while pointing toward Carey Avenue. “I saw the officers here had their guns out.”
Brian Lavan, a school resource officer with the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, said he and others heard about the shooting. As a result, GAR High School and Heights-Murray and Dodson elementary schools went into “lock-out” status, Lavan said.
When the Chevrolet was found, Meyers High School and Kistler Elementary School went into the same status.
Lavan said the school goes into lock-out when there is no danger in the school but police action outside. The school’s doors are locked, the resource officer positions himself in front of the main entrance and security greeters inside are made aware of the situation.
The name of the victim was not released.
Michael Craige, who lives in an apartment unit at 62 Hutson St., learned about the shooting when he arrived with three other people in a vehicle unable to turn onto Hutson Street.
“I have no idea, none at all,” Craige said in regard to the incident. “It’s me, my sister and a brother and my nephew who live there.”
Craige said he was not aware of any trouble at the apartment building.
Police briefly spoke with Craige while his sister, who was home at the time of the shooting, was transported for questioning.
A woman residing with her mother at Dana and Hutson streets, who identified themselves as Laura and Chris, said they heard five shots.
“The shooting was definitely outside,” Laura said. “You can’t even sit on your front porch in the middle of the day anymore.”
“I’m getting the hell out of here,” Chris said. “I’m taking my grandbabies out of here.”
Laura and Chris said they were told before they rented the residence that the neighborhood was safe. A week after moving in, Chris said there was a stabbing just outside.
“It’s not a good area at all,” Laura said, pointing to a double-block house on Hutson Street that she said is a known drug house.
“I’ve reported many times about that building. People would go in, come out and shoot up heroin right in their cars,” Laura said.
The same residence where police received no response was the scene of a shooting on Sept. 10, 2012, when Christian Sholly, then 20, suffered a gunshot wound inflicted by his half-brother, Tony Ransome, then 14. Ransome was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, and committed to a juvenile detention center.