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New Jersey Arts Festival Shooting Suspect Was Paroled For Manslaughter In February

Tahaij Wells was killed by police after the shooting in Trenton that left 22 people injured.

By Gina Tron

The suspected gunman in a mass shooting that left 22 people injured at a New Jersey arts festival had been paroled just months ago for aggravated manslaughter charges.

Tahaij Wells, 33, was killed by police after the shooting. He had been released from prison in February, NJ.com reported. He had been sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2004 for an aggravated manslaughter conviction for the shooting death of a 22-year-old man. Wells was 17 at the time.

While incarcerated in 2010, Wells was sentenced to six extra years after pleading guilty to second-degree racketeering for helping a gang leader, David "Duke" Allen, leader of the Bloods' Nine Trey Gangsters faction, run the gang from prison, according to NJ.com.

Gang activity has been blamed for Sunday’s shooting in Trenton, which injured 22 people, 17 from bullets, including a 13-year-old boy who was listed in critical condition on Sunday, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said. Officials said a dispute among rival gangs led to the eruption of gunfire. Wells and Amir Armstrong, 23, allegedly opened fire at Art All Night around 3 a.m., according to Reuters. Armstrong has been hospitalized in stable condition with injuries and faces unlawful possession of a handgun charges. It’s not clear how he was injured. He has no prior felony convictions. A third suspect is in critical condition, according to The Associated Press. He hasn't been identified. 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy blamed guns for the bloodshed, just four days after he signed six gun control bills into law.

"It's yet another reminder of the senseless gun violence, even having signed six stringent gun laws last week," Murphy said at a Trenton church on Sunday, according to NJ.com."We know we're getting stronger and better but we're a long way from getting rid of this senselessness."

Wells was carrying a handgun with an extended magazine, which is illegal to own in New Jersey.

[Photo: Mercer County Prosecutor's Office]

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