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Lehigh Valley

Three separate gunfire incidents change focus of Musikfest

Three separate gunfire incidents change focus of Musikfest

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A city council member says Bethlehem's most recent shooting, the third incident of gunfire since Musikfest began, is not related to the massive festival. Still, the city's mayor is now calling for a thorough review of security for next year.

As news of another incident spread Thursday, festival-goers were taking notice.

"I'm actually really afraid, you know, all the time now," said Cathy Newhall of Bethlehem.

The latest shooting happened around 1:00 a.m. Thursday outside the Happy Tap Bar on East Fourth Street. Police say Manuel Collazo, 30, of Cleveland, Ohio, shot a man in the back after a argument inside the bar. Collazo, a felon with a long rap sheet, is still on the run.

"We've had nothing like this before," said Newhall's husband, Bob. "A few minor fights, but no shootings. I don't understand it."

Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio did not return calls for comment, but according to city council member Bryan Callahan, DiLuzio believes Thursday morning's shooting was unrelated to the 10-day music festival, which brings roughly one million people to town.

"They're totally isolated incidences," said Callahan. "[Collazo] wasn't even at the festival. He had a disagreement at a bar."

Callahan lives across the street from where shots were fired on the festival's opening night. He blamed most fights on teenagers, many of whom he believes are drinking illegally.

Some festival-goers said they avoid the area after dark because of rowdy underage drinkers.

"Oh definitely, yes," said Cathy Newhall. "You can see it even on a Saturday afternoon."

In an internal memo to concerned council members, obtained by 69 News, Mayor Bob Donchez agrees.

"Many of these teenagers come here to hang out and do nothing else," Donchez wrote. "This is a recurring issue every year at Musikfest. Arrest statistics prove this."

In response to the shootings, police have shifted more officers not just to Main Street, but to surrounding neighborhoods. State Police are also on hand.

But the mayor wants to go futher. His memo calls for a thorough review after Musikfest ends, asking downtown bars, store owners, festival organizers, and the public what can be done to curb underage drinking and fights.

"We can no longer lay dormant on this issue," Donchez wrote. "We need to address ... the issue of Main Street during Musikfest and the continuous public disorder problems that occur every year."

Callahan said controlling underage attendees may be tough, but there are some ideas out there.

"Whether or not we search their bottles or Gatorade bottles," he said. "I know what some of the kids are doing is, they're sticking alcohol in the Gatorade bottles."

Musikfest organizers stayed laregely silent Thursday. ArtsQuest spokesman Mark Demko saluted city police and EMS for responding quickly to incidents, and said the festival's two thousand organizers also play a crucial role in keeping order. Demko referred all other questions to Bethlehem Police.

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