Monroe County

‘Mistaken Identity' Leads to Multiple Shootings in the Poconos, Police Say

5 charged, 4 wounded in shootings in Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County

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What to Know

  • At least five people have been charged in connection with a series of shootings in a community in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains that left four people wounded.
  • The shootings occurred Monday night in different areas of Coolbaugh Township, and authorities said some of the victims apparently were victims of mistaken identity.
  • Authorities had issued a shelter-in-place order order after the shootings occurred, a directive that remained in effect for several hours.

Authorities early Tuesday lifted a shelter-in-place order hours after a string of shootings that police said appeared to be rooted in a case of "mistaken identity" left four people injured in a community in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains.

The incident began Monday around 5 p.m. at the entrance to A Pocono Country Place community in Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County, Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Chris Wagner said at a midday Tuesday new conference.

Five people -- ranging from 16 to 22 years old -- were in a Volvo when they spotted a black Mercedes leaving the community, Wagner said. The people in the car believed the Mercedes to belong to someone they had beef with so they cut off the Mercedes and opened fire.

The drivers of each car took off on Route 196, the Volvo trailing the Mercedes, investigators said. The Mercedes then pulled into the Tobyhanna Shopping Center on Route 196 when the two people in the Mercedes got out and began firing back at the Volvo.

One man in the Volvo was struck in the head in the gun fight and later found by police in another car with three women. Police initially said the women told them they were Good Samaritans, but later police realized they know the man, Wagner said.

The others in the Volvo got back into the car and drove to Ledgewood Drive, where they opened fire on a home they believed to be connected to the Mercedes. Two people inside the home -- a 47-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man -- were shot. They never saw it coming, Wagner said.

The woman was shot in the back, while the teen was shot in his arm.

The Volvo occupants then shot up another home where they believed the original target could have been. A 20-year-old man in that home was shot in the leg. He "was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Wagner said.

Wagner said all the shooting victims were in stable condition Tuesday morning.

Police spent hours overnight, sorting through clues before they came to arrest and announce multiple charges against multiple people.

Two men, two woman and a 16-year-old boy — all from Tobyhanna — were charged in the shootings. Laron Watson, 22; Solidin Hamilton, 21; Aja Nay Watson, 19, and the teen, all face numerous counts, including attempted homicide and aggravated assault. Jahlayah Blondell, 20, was charged with hindering apprehension.

People held the suspects and said it appeared there was no further danger to the community. It was unclear if any of the suspects has an attorney who could comment on their behalf.

Investigators have also requested multiple search warrants at eight locations and have witnesses, Wagner said. They recovered multiple firearms and ammunition.

Authorities tweeted that while the investigation in Coolbaugh Township was ongoing Tuesday morning, they did not believe the public was in “imminent danger.”

The Monroe County Office of Emergency Management had tweeted at about 8:45 p.m. that residents “on the 196 corridor between Pocono Country Place and Pocono Farms East” should shelter in place and report any suspicious activity.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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