Just before 3 AM EST early Sunday morning (June 17), 17 people were shot at a 24-hour art festival that was being hosted in Trenton, New Jersey. The annual event was attended by over 1,000 people this year. Among those shot was a 13-year-old boy, one four people listed in critical condition, according to early CNN reports. Officials say that one of three suspects was killed in an exchange of gunshots with law enforcement, and the other suspect is in custody.

The gunfire sparked a frenzied fear for those attending the art festival that showcases artists and musicians each year.

Witnesses told the media that the area is known to be safe and not generally plagued by gun violence. However, that seemed to change overnight—literally.

Gang fistfight turns into a fight with bullets

This incident was not one of a lone shooter like the Waffle House incident. Instead, it was an occurrence that was initiated by gang presence which was something that could have been avoided. According to law enforcement officials who updated the public on the shooting at a briefing, they told reporters that prior to shots being fired, several fights broke out between rival gang members and organizers tried to break it up.

When shots were fired, there was a rush and stampede of screaming people who tried to escape the bullets. Edward Forchion who was at the festival and witnessed the assault told WPVI, a local tv station, that there were about 10 rapid shots fired in the door where he was.

Forchion described how he could hear and feel the sounds of the shots fired. Another witness said that when the shots began, she thought they were firecrackers because the shots were so close in succession, and then "all hell broke loose.

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CNN’s Brynn Gingras reported on the traumatic incident at this year's festival which is in its 12th year. The event started Saturday (June 16) at 3 PM and was supposed to continue until 3 PM Sunday afternoon (June 17), however, the remainder of the art festival was canceled due to the shooting.

Suspects responsible for the tragedy

The Trenton prosecutor’s office told reporters that homicide investigators are in charge of the investigation because of the fatality of one of the three suspects.

The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) is also involved in because there were multiple weapons found in the room where the shooting took place.

According to Trenton Police, the suspect who was killed was a 33-year-old man who was just been released from jail on homicide charges and was currently on parole. One of the remaining two suspects is in the hospital in critical condition, and the third is in police custody on weapons charges.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America reps at the art festival

The irony of the shooting was that representatives from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America were present at the festival in their advocacy booth.

They attended the festival last year and again this year, according to the New Jersey Chapter Leader Brett Sabo, who spoke to CNN in an interview Sunday afternoon (June 17) from Washington, D.C.

Sabo spoke about the tough gun laws in Jersey but noted that there is still a need for federal laws to keep citizens safe. Sabo noted there were six bills signed last week in New Jersey but that “There is only so much we can do. States’ hands are tied and the government will not help us.”

The Moms want change and clearly outlined their requests

Governor Murphy (NJ) has been working with the Moms on the next steps and focus of their mission on gun reform.

Sabo said it was important for New Jersey to work with neighboring states on “transparency and accountability for illegal guns that are trafficked,” something that was a “huge problem” in Jersey. However, this would "require the cooperation of other states to help reduce the problem."

Sabo also said the group wanted to see universal background checks become federal law and wanted to fight conceal-and-carry reciprocity at the federal level, asserting that it would "help to keep all Americans safe and right now this law puts states in danger." These are some of the same requests that have been put before the Trump administration by many Americans, including the Parkland students who suffered great losses after their school was massacred on Feb 14 of this year.

New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy, visited the scene to survey the aftermath. He spoke to reporters at the site and said the situation as "an awful, awful tragedy and yet another example of senseless gun violence."

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