Two people died, including a bystander and a gunman who went on an “indiscriminate” shooting spree Wednesday morning in the Lehigh Valley, the latest in a string of shootings at business establishments across the U.S.
The Lehigh County Coroner's Office identified the deceased as 31-year-old Ramon Ramirez, of Allentown. His death was ruled a homicide from a gunshot to the body. The gunman was identified as 45-year-old Za Uk Lian, of South Whitehall Township. His death was ruled a suicide.
Lian first had “an encounter” with a female driver as both were traveling on Route 22 near the intersection of Route 309 and Cedar Crest Boulevard shortly before 5 a.m., Lehigh Valley District Attorney Jim Martin said.
Lian shot at the woman’s car, but though she heard a bang, she only noticed the gunshot after pulling into a Wawa at the intersection of Route 100 and Schantz Road and looking at her vehicle after walking out of the store from getting a sandwich.
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The man then pulled into the Wawa parking lot, went to the south side and shot a man in a Jeep, leaving him with nonlife threatening injuries. Lian also turned his attention to Ramirez, a truck driver, shooting him to death as he filled up his big rig, Martin said.
He said the shootings appeared to be “indiscriminate and unrelated.”
A Wawa employee who was taking out the trash heard the gunshots and rushed two customers inside, locking the doors and telling fellow employees to shelter in place, the district attorney said. “All credit to him,” Martin added.
After killing Ramirez, Liam ran about ¼ mile down Route 100 and apparently died by suicide from a gunshot to the chest and hand, according to Martin.
Police could also be seen at the Brookside Children’s Early Education Center, about half a mile away from the Wawa. The day care said on its Facebook page that it was closed when the incident happened and that no one was hurt.
Nearby Fogelsville Elementary School, which was already scheduled for virtual classes, closed off the campus to both students and staff for the rest of the day.
Martin said the investigation was ongoing.
The Lehigh Valley shooting comes at a time when the nation deals with various deadly shootings at business establishments.
On Tuesday, an employee in Long Island, New York, was arrested after police said he shot three people – killing one and wounding two – at an office inside a Stop & Shop supermarket. In Austin, Texas, authorities arrested a former sheriff’s deputy in the fatal shooting of three people at an apartment complex near the popular shopping area known as the Arboretum.
Last week, a 19-year-old former employee killed eight people at an Indianapolis FedEx facility before turning the gun on himself. In late March, another man walked into a Colorado grocery store and shot to death 10 people, including a police officer.
Just a few days before that, in one of the most high-profile shootings, a man killed eight people – mostly Asian women – at three Atlanta, Georgia, spas.
The incidents have prompted more calls for gun control across the country.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced a half-dozen executive actions to combat what he called an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” of gun violence in America.
However, the president remains hamstrung when it comes to broader gun control reforms, which would need legislative action largely opposed by Republicans in Congress.
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.