Scores of yellow evidence markers dotted a stretch of Prendergast Avenue in Jamestown on Friday. With the midday sun overhead, it was easy to spot the empty shell casings that lay strewn on the pavement.
Officers had swarmed the 800 block of Prendergast after receiving word of shots fired before 1 pm In the aftermath of the violent outburst, one man was left dead outside a sedan while another was taken to UPMC Chautauqua and then airlifted to another hospital.
The victim killed was later identified as 35-year-old Jesus Batista Perez.
In a statement, the department released images of the “suspect vehicle,” described as a black four-door Toyota sedan with a New York registration, a sun roof, a tinted license plate cover on the front of the vehicle and possibly a chrome gas cap.
Friday’s drive-by shooting — the latest in a string of targeted attacks going back years — led to an impromptu press conference at city hall that included Jamestown Police Chief Timothy Jackson, Mayor Eddie Sundquist and City Council President Tony Dolce.
“My thoughts are with the families and the victims tonight,” Sundquist told a half-dozen reporters who gathered Friday evening. “Regardless of the cause, no family should have to endure such loss.”
Sundquist noted the “uptick in violence here in Jamestown,” which he said is consistent with the rest of the country. “This is very concerning,” he said, “and our police department has seized more and more illegal drugs and guns this year alone.”
I have added, “We want to assure our residents that these incidents are overwhelmingly targeted and predominantly related to outside actors coming into our city. However, the violence and the fear that comes from an incident like this scars our community.”
Dolce, who said he was equally as concerned and frustrated as the public by the spike in violent crimes, announced a citywide forum to be held a week after Labor Day that will be open to the public. The forum will include the police chief and city director of development and part of the discussion, Dolce said, will be to look at neighborhood and housing issues as well as public safety.
“We’re all frustrated,” Dolce said. “We’re all upset about this, and we’re going to work diligently to try to do the best we can to try to pull this back and end the tide of this rash of gun violence in our community.”
Jackson said police were working with the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office as part of the investigation. I have urged the public to come forward with information.
The chief declined to state whether police had identified any suspects in Friday’s deadly drive-by shooting or if a vehicle was being sought.
Asked by The Post-Journal if there were any contributing factors in the rash of violence, Jackson simply responded, “Drugs.”
Jamestown Public Schools were briefly on lockout Friday during the last day of summer programming due to the shooting. “Thank you to families and staff for your understanding of our commitment to the safety of our students and schools,” the district said in a statement to parents.
Friday’s fatal shooting follows a string of violence this year in the city. Among notable incidents:
• A 37-year-old Lockport man identified as Shawn Black was killed after being shot the night of April 30. Officers were alerted to reports of multiple shots fired in the area of East Sixth Street at American Place. Soon after, police were told that a vehicle had arrived at UPMC Chautauqua and that a gunshot victim was inside. Black was later pronounced dead.
• A 41-year-old man was shot in the abdomen during the early morning hours of May 31 on Prendergast Avenue. Police said two men dressed in all black had firearms during the home invasion, described as a targeted attack and not random. After the shooting, the suspects fled the home. The victim was taken by helicopter to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa.
• A city man was charged this past Tuesday after police say he fired a round from a handgun at an occupied vehicle parked in the driveway of 810 Washington St. Joshua J. Hammer, 35, was taken into custody following an investigation.
Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call the Jamestown Police Department at 716-483-7537 or the Jamestown Police Department Tip Line at 716-483-8477. All tips are confidential.