A well organized festive event that was attended by several hundred people in the 200 block of North 17th Street concluded violently when a gunman opened fire, striking at least one person and sending dozens of women and children scrambling for their lives at around 10 p.m. Saturday.
Residents and officials from the Lillie Mae Association's North 17th Street Community Festival reportedly planned for nearly a year, using personal funds and donations to create a fun-filled day that would culminate an already great summer for hundreds of children from around the city.
"This was our second year holding this event and both years (with the assistance from the police department, city officials, and private donors) it really helped children. We not only wanted the children to have a great time, (since back to school is next week) but thousands of dollars of supplies, book bags, free haircuts, and other needs were given out to them for free" a Lillie Mae Association spokesperson said.
About an hours after the peaceful event ended and residents prepared to gather up their children to depart the area, multiple gun blast exploded on the block sending dozens of people running for cover in every direction according to residents. "I really couldn't believe it, we had such a wonderful event where everything was just great." "They actually waited for the police to leave to create chaos" a resident said.
Police who were policing the community festival earlier were rushed back to the scene on reports of shots fired when they arrived to find a male victim laying on the street injured from gunfire.
EMS transported the victim (who was reported to be in his late 20's) to University Hospital in Newark where he suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the leg.
"Our event was peaceful, well organized, and had been concluded for over an hour. Children had a great time and were able to benefit greatly from this event" an official from The Lillie Mae Association said.
There were no reports of an arrest made.
A spokesperson for the City of East Orange has declined to comment on this incident.