1 Dead, 1 Hurt After Verbal Altercation Ends in Gunfire Outside Easton Target Store

A Target staffer said everyone sheltered-in-place until police gave the all clear. One witness described the situation as "insane."

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A verbal altercation escalated into a deadly shooting outside a Target store in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, on Sunday afternoon, the county's district attorney said.

The shooting happened around 2:15 p.m. outside the big box store at 3800 block of Dryland Way in the Lower Nazareth Commons shopping center.

Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck said a man, identified as 22-year-old Jayzell Avery Sanders, of Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, was sitting in the front passenger seat of a black Buick Regal parked in the lot when two men got out of a white car and climbed into the backseat of the Buick.

An argument ensued, Houck said, and Sanders jumped out of the car and ran to the Target. That's when the two men opened fire on Sanders. He turned around and shot back. Houck said surveillance video showed him returning fire.

Sanders was hit by gunfire in the right shoulder. He was transported to an area hospital for treatment where he's listed in stable condition.

Elijah Jonathan Johnson, 20, of Canadensis, Pennsylvania, was shot multiple times. He died from those injuries, Houck said. The DA has not said who is responsible for Johnson's killing.

Jayden Ofray, a Target employee, told NBC10 that customers came running into the store after the shooting.

"We all had to shelter-in-place and the police locked down the lot," he said. A coworker saw two men wearing black masks running to a car after the shooting, he said.

Large swaths of the parking lot are roped off by police tape. Evidence markers sit in several locations including next to a black handgun in an empty parking spot near the entrance to the store. Several police officers were seen milling around the area taking photos and collecting evidence.

car in parking lot
Evidence markers surround a car sitting in the parking lot of the Target store in Easton, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, August 8, 2021.

Another witness, Annisa, told NBC10 that she and a friend arrived at the store shortly after the shooting. They were unaware of what happened until they got near the store and saw blood around the entrance. Then other customers told her there had been a shooting.

"It was insane," she said, adding that customers were confused until police locked down the shopping center. Officers also searched a nearby Burlington department store, she said.

Houck said the investigation is ongoing with multiple local and state agencies involved. Sanders was not licensed to carry a weapon in Pennsylvania, Houck said, and he's been charged with reckless endangerment and firearms violations.

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