Investigators closing in on person of interest in relation to recent Hazleton shootings

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There are fast-moving developments Thursday in the investigation into a rash of shootings in the city of Hazleton.

Investigators say they are closing in on a person of interest. It all has to do with four shootings in the city over the past week. In all of those shootings, bullets flew into homes with one person wounded.

Detectives say they questioned a person of interest, the possible suspect in these shootings and most importantly they say they recovered a gun that may have been used in the crimes.

“Now that gun will tell us is that gun the gun that’s been involved in numerous shootings throughout the city,” Hazleton Police Department Chief Jerry Speziale said.

Speziale says his officers recovered a gun near the same neighborhood where they spotted a man they are calling a person of interest in the shootings.

“Does it have skin cell DNA on the bullets, on the magazine, on the weapon? Does it have fingerprints? So the gun is going to be the key, the impetus to driving us to charge this individual,” Speziale said.

Gunfire has erupted in four different neighborhoods over the past week. A man was shot in the arm as he sat at his kitchen table of his Arthur Street home having a late-night snack. He survived his injuries. A neighbor who did not want to appear on camera fearing for his safety, told Eyewitness News: “I wonder why I’m still here. I should go over the mountain and live by our daughter in Drums.”

Craig Budde heard the gunshots. He is active in the city’s crime watch groups. He put out a call for action.

“I think the best suggestion is that residents get involved. Stop saying it’s a shame. The town will never be the same. I lived here all my life and I never had this. Get involved. Open your mouth,” Budde said.

Chief Speziale believes that two groups of people are involved in these shootings. He had this warning: “If you’re running with that group and you’re associated with that group we are going to take the group down,” Speziale said.

Chief Speziale says his department is working with federal and state agencies to end these shootings.

Investigators urge anyone with information about these shootings to contact the police or Luzerne County 911. You don’t have to give your name.

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