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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    The 22-year-old just increased his transfer value by a large amount, to pick up the Man of the Match award.

    Day one of the 2018 World Cup is in the books, thankfully for Saudi Arabia.

    The host team gets the opportunity to shine on opening day, and that is exactly what Russia did Thursday, routing the Saudis 5-0. It was a record breaking day for the Russians, who took a big step towards the knockout stages.

    STAR OF THE GAME 

    Alexandr Golovin, Russia.

    The 22-year-old just increased his transfer value by a large amount, to pick up the Man of the Match award.

    Golovin had two beautifully weighted passes that found the heads of team mates, for his first two assists of the tournament. He also put an exclamation point on the performance in injury time, with a free kick that snuck just inside the post, for his first goal.

    FORCED SUBSTITUTION TURNS OUT WELL

    Alan Dzagoev was forced off for Russia inside the first half hour, and was replaced on the pitch by Denis Cheryshev.

    It ended up a stroke of genius by Russia head coach Stanislav Cherchesov, as the attacking midfielder came on and scored in the 43rd minute, to give the hosts a 2-0 lead at the break. Cheryshev then added his second at 90+1, just before Golovin's goal, to help pile up the goals.

    In a tight Group A, the plus-five goal difference after one game may end up as huge for Russia. It also means a win Tuesday against Egypt (2 p.m. EDT Fox) should clinch advancement to the next round.

    North America bid wins 2026 World Cup with final at MetLife in N.J

    A LOOK AHEAD TO FRIDAY

    Friday is the first full day of action, with three games on tap.

    The other two teams in Group A open the action at 8 a.m. EDT, as Uruguay will take on Egypt.

    In Group B play, Morocco will play Iran at 11 a.m. EDT. Finally, in the biggest match of the day, Spain, with a new coach in tow, will go up against EURO 2016 winner Portugal at 2 p.m. EDT.

    All games can be seen on Fubo.tv as well.

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR FRIDAY

    Will Mohamed Salah play for Egypt? 

    The match has become a massive contest now that Russia has the plus-five goal difference. The Liverpool star, who was injured in the UEFA Champions League Final, looks set to make the starting 11, despite the fact that he is not 100 percent.

    Will it come back and cost the Egyptian side?

    Will Spain be hampered by the coaching situation?

    Julen Lopetegui was fired as Spanish head coach on Wednesday, just two days before the Portugal match. Fernando Hierro has taken over, but will it have any effect on the team?

    With the talent on offer for the Spanish team, it should make no difference. But Portugal is tough.

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His weekly podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-to-box-football/id1208561351?mt=2


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    He was crossing a street in Hamilton Tuesday

    An 87-year-old man who was struck by car driven by an 82-year-old woman died from his injuries, Hamilton police announced Thursday morning.

    Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 9.56.49 AM.pngPolice say Richard Mckeever was struck at an intersection near Locust Hill Adult Community (Google Maps)

    Richard Mckeever was hit by a Ford Fusion when he was crossing the intersection of Locust Hill Boulevard and Back Creek Way, in the Locust Hill Adult Community, around 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

    The driver was identified as Helen Bartolomei, 82, of Hamilton, police said.

    Mckeever was transported to Capital Health's trauma unit for his injuries, but he later succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the crash.

    The crash is still under investigation. The Hamilton police encourage any witnesses to call their traffic unit at 609-581-4000.

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at gdelia@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The occupants escaped uninjured

    A car erupted in flames on Interstate 195 eastbound in Upper Freehold Township Thursday morning, causing temporary traffic delays.

    The occupants of the vehicle, a group of young men, were not injured during the 10:45 a.m. fire near mile marker 10, the New Jersey State Police said.

    They walked further down the highway to escape the thick smoke.

    Upper Freehold firefighters extinguished the BMW moments after arriving. 

    Eastbound traffic was reduced to one lane to allow firefighters to work, causing temporary delays. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Police.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Congratulations Reed Gusciora on being elected the next mayor of the City of Trenton. The easy part - winning the election - is over now and the hard part starts when you take office in July.

    Congratulations Reed Gusciora on being elected the next mayor of the City of Trenton. The easy part - winning the election - is over now and the hard part starts when you take office in July.

    You certainly knew what you were getting into when you decided to trade your seat in the state Assembly, where you were one of 80 legislators, for the top executive job of leading the Capital City for the next four years.

    As you said during the campaign, your goals are to fix the serious problems facing the Trenton Water Works, hiring more police to make the city safer, securing funds to improve roads, improving educational opportunities for the city's children and make critical staffing changes.

    You also pointed out the need to shore up Trenton's anemic tax base that has suffered from the tax-exempt status of so many properties.

    These are the same issues that challenged previous mayors going back as far as most people can remember. Current Mayor Eric Jackson can attest to the demands of the job - he decided not to seek a second term.

    Trenton has finally picked a new mayor

    Trenton needs a mayor who is a visionary, someone who is willing to try new approaches to serving the nearly 85,000 souls who call the city home. A mayor who puts in a 9-5 shift at City Hall is just not going to make much of a difference.

    You are going to be feeling your way as you become accustomed to your new job, that's only natural. But never lose sight of the lofty goals you set when you ran for mayor. Don't get bogged down in the minutia of the job.

    One of the most important tasks you now face is putting together a team to help you run the city. Put politics aside and find the best people who know the city and can make it a better place.

    That will be critical for you because as a long-time resident of Princeton who moved to Trenton seven years ago, you will have to depend on the expertise of others. That would even be the case for a mayor who is a native of the city.

    Much has been made of the fact that you will be the first openly gay mayor of the city. That certainly gives you an empathy for the LGBTQ community that has faced many prejudices. But whether you are straight or gay should not matter or be a cause for distraction during your administration.  

    At age 58, you are making a major career change and thousands of eyes will be watching how well you do, how well you keep your campaign promises.

    You have a lot to prove to city residents who chose you over your rival, Paul Perez, by a mere 355 votes. That's hardly a resounding vote of confidence, but still quite a turnaround from the initial election where you came in second to Perez in a crowded field of seven candidates.

    Sad to say, almost 80 percent of eligible voters didn't even bother to vote in the recent runoff election that also included the four City Council ward seats. Marge Caldwell-Wilson and George Muschal retained their North and South Ward seats, respectively, and newcomer Robin Vaughn knocked off Council President Zachary Chester to represent the West Ward.

    And in a classic illustration of the adage that every vote counts, Joseph A. Harrison prevailed over Taiwanda Terry-Wilson in the East Ward by a razor-thin three votes, prompting a call for a recount.

    As a new administration is about to take over, it is with a sense of optimism that we welcome a new mayor.

    Without a doubt, Trenton is a city with great potential, as you well know, Mr. Gusciora. Hopefully, with your leadership, Trenton will prosper and evolve into a city where people want to visit and live.

    We wish you success.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

     

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    He was charged for having a weapon which he ditched in an alleyway while fleeing from police in September 2017.

    A 29-year-old Trenton man is now facing up to 20 years in prison for one count of a weapons charge from an incident in September 2017

    Rakim Williams .jpgRakim Williams

    Cases involving a single gun possession rarely see the inside of a court room, but Rakim Williams was found guilty by a jury Tuesday, the Mercer County Prosecutor's office said Thursday. 

    Williams was detained before the trial, as prosecutors saw him as a flight and safety risk to the community. Judge Ronald Susswein also factored in his record of prior gun charges. 

    Public Defender Amber Forrester represented Williams throughout the four-day trial, while the state was represented by Assistant Prosecutor Timothy McCann. 

    Williams is scheduled to be sentenced on July 27, where he could face up to 20 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after 10 years if the state's discretionary extended term is granted.

    Most single weapons cases see a five-to-10 year sentences with parole eligibility after five years. 

    Paige Gross may be reached at pgross@njadvancemedia.comFollow her on Twitter @By_paigegross. Find NJ.com on Facebook. 

     

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    The principal of Grice Middle School in Hamilton notified parents with a phone call Thursday

    Someone scrawled graffiti on the partition wall with the words "kill" and "list" along with 14 first names in the bathroom of a middle school in Mercer County on Thursday.

    Parents of Albert E. Grice Middle School students were informed of the threat in a phone call from principal David Innocenzi that evening. The voice message was shared with NJ Advance Media by a member of the Grice community.

    Threats, rumors and fears disrupt school across N.J. in wake of Florida shooting

    An police investigation is underway. 

    "The Grice administration is working closely with the Hamilton Township police department to ensure that your children are safe," the principal said during the call. 

    Hamilton police didn't immediately return a call seeking additional information.

    A woman who answered the phone at the office of Hamilton Superintendent Scott Rocco said the district might issue a statement on Friday. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    Luke Atwell, 37, of Hamilton, admitted to running a drug network that sold cocaine and other drugs on the internet.

    One of the managers of a vast drug-dealing operation that was selling cocaine and designer drugs online was sentenced Thursday to 19 years in state prison.

    Atwell.jpgLuke Atwell, 37, of Hamilton.

    Luke A. Atwell, 37, of Hamilton, pleaded guilty in April to leading a narcotics trafficking network, a first-degree offense. He was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury Jr. in Atlantic County.

    "This sentence sends a loud and clear message to narcotics traffickers that if you choose to profit by spreading addiction in New Jersey and fueling street-level crime with your drugs, we will come after you and you will face hard time," Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a statement.

    Atwell was one of 11 others charged in "Operation Skin Deep," an investigation that started out as a surveillance operation targeting white supremacists in Atlantic City. While monitoring the activity of one group, the Atlantic City Skin Heads, detectives identified several individuals who appeared to be selling cocaine, authorities have said.

    An attorney representing Atwell, Edward C. Logan, told NJ Advance Media his client had no affiliation with any white supremacist groups.

    "He was strictly involved in selling drugs, the drug business for money," he said. "He had nothing to do with any kind of group or affiliation with any gang or anything like that."

    Authorities say Atwell -- along with his partner, Christopher Castelluzzo - ran an operation that utilized the internet to arrange mail-order sales of cocaine and designer drugs. Designer drugs are created in a way to mimic the effects of the original drug but trying to keep it legal. One of those drugs was methylone, commonly known as "M" and is similar to ecstasy.

    Christopher-Castelluzzo.jpgChristopher Castelluzzo, 33, of Lake Hopatcong.  

    Castelluzzo, who formed the drug ring, was the main boss. The 33-year-old Lake Hopatcong resident also pleaded guilty to the first-degree charge of leading a narcotics trafficking network and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21. His recommended sentence will be 21 years in prison, according to a statement from state Attorney General's Office.

    Atwell was Castelluzzo's managing partner who was responsible for online marketing, managing expenses and receipts, keeping inventory and dealing with customers.

    The investigation, authorities say, led detectives to seize a 1/4 of a million in cash, diamonds, gold bars, a 1/4 kilogram of cocaine, ammunition, gun silencers and materials for packaging cocaine.

    Authorities also seized $1.2 million in cash from the trunk of Shazad Khan, an alleged member of the drug-dealing ring who authorities say was passing off the money for cocaine to someone at a parking lot off the Union Turnpike in North Bergen.   

    Castelluzzo and Atwell also received sentences of 20 years and 18 years, respectively, at the conclusion of a separate federal investigation.

    Long, Atwell's attorney, said his client received credit for all time served in New Jersey and will have to finish the federal sentence once he completes the state sentence.  

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Yan Shi, 36, and her husband Weiping Liu, 40, of Plainsboro, were arrested Thursday

    A Middlesex County couple has been charged with making millions of dollars by selling knockoff designer products from China on eBay, authorities said. 

    Yan Shi, 36, and her husband Weiping Liu, 40, of Plainsboro, were arrested Thursday on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to violate state trademark laws, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement. 

    Investigators seized Longchamp, Vera Bradley and Uggs products from the couple's home during a court-authorized search.

    Yan Shi was also charged with violating the New Jersey Trademark Counterfeiting Act, Carey said. 

    The couple's alleged operation, in which Yan Shi used multiple aliases to avoid being caught, netted $8 million in profits, according to the release.

    About $3 million was also illegally sent to people in China, authorities said. 

    The couple is set to appear in court on July 5 in Middlesex County. 

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at CMcCarthy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    As prom season winds down, NJ.com compiled a collection of some of the wildest, unique and fun moments from many of the events.


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    It was the only the first full day of games at the 2018 World Cup, but Friday may end up as the most memorable of the month long tournament. There were three goals scored in the 87th minute of later, two of which won games. We had the first hat trick, which just about locked up another Ballon D'Or...

    It was the only the first full day of games at the 2018 World Cup, but Friday may end up as the most memorable of the month long tournament.

    There were three goals scored in the 87th minute of later, two of which won games. We had the first hat trick, which just about locked up another Ballon D'Or for the reigning one. 

    But there was also heartbreak for two teams in particular, who played so well for so long, with nothing to show for their efforts.

    RESULTS

    Group A

    Uruguay 1-0 Egypt

    Group B

    Iran 1-0 Morocco

    Spain 3-3 Portugal

    THREE STARS OF THE FRIDAY MATCHES

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal

    Two first half goals from the reigning World Player of the Year had the Portuguese side up 2-1 over Group B favorites Spain at the half. But Diego Costa's second goal of the contest, plus a Nacho goal three minutes later, had Spain back in the lead.

    It looked likely that those goals would give Spain the inside track to the knockout stages, with Portugal on the back foot for most of the second half. But a late foul just outside the box gave Ronaldo one final chance, and he made it count.

    Ronaldo bent the ball around the wall from 25 yards, to complete his 51st career hat trick, and give Portugal a share of the spoils.

    Diego Costa, Spain

    The Atletico Madrid forward dragged Spain back into the match after halftime, with his second goal of the day. With all the talent in the Spanish squad, it may be Costa that is the key to their hopes to win a second World Cup title in three tournaments.

    Jose Jimenez, Uruguay

    Playing without injured star Mohamed Salah, Egypt sat deep, and tried to frustrate Uruguay. The strategy worked for 75 minutes (but for a Luis Suarez horror miss), until the Egyptian team started to tire.

    The Uruguayans started to push forward, and a free kick from Edinson Cavani struck the post in the 89th minute. But a second free kick in succession doomed Egypt, as Jimenez's powerful 89th minute header gave Uruguay a massive 1-0 win.

    World Cup 2018 Day One: Who were the stars for Russia?

    IRAN STUNS MOROCCO IN THE LATE, LATE SHOW

    With no boots, due to Nike pulling out of its deal, and little warm up action before the tournament, due to teams backing out of arranged games, Iran came to the 2018 World Cup no expected to do much by many fans.

    A first game with fellow minnows Morocco gave the Iranians a chance for glory, and that is exactly what happened. A 95th minute own goal from substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz gave Iran a stunning 1-0 victory, after it had grown into the match for much of the second half.

    After the Spain Portugal 3-3 draw, it is Iran that sits at the top of the Group B standings.

    A LOOK AHEAD TO SATURDAY

    With four games on tap, Saturday should be another fantastic day of football.

    In Group C play, France will take on Australia at 6 a.m. EDT, with Peru will play Denmark at 12 p.m., both on FS1 and Fubo.tv.

    In Group D, Argentina will play Iceland at 9 a.m. EDT on Fox, while Croatia and Nigeria will end the day's action at 3 p.m EDT on FS1, with both games once again on Fubo.tv

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR SATURDAY

    With his big decision finally out of the way, can Antoine Griezmann lead France to its second World Cup title? Les Bleus is heavily favored against Australia, and need to get some momentum heading forward.

    Can Lionel Messi match Cristiano Ronaldo's exploits from Friday? The two perennial Ballon D'Or winners have played out a long standing rivalry over the last decade. Ronaldo threw down his marker already. What will Messi do?

    The other two matches of the day are very intriguing. Both have massive implications in their respective groups. Denmark Peru may be for the runner up spot behind France in Group C, while the Croatia Nigeria winner, if there is one, should be in good shape in Group D.

    Will there be winners? More importantly, can Saturday come close to replicating the excitement of Friday?

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His weekly podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-to-box-football/id1208561351?mt=2


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    There has been an excitement around the clubhouse, as it was pretty well known that Loaisiga would make the start Friday in the Bronx.

    It does not happen often that the Yankees call up someone directly from Trenton.

    Friday night, however, for the second time this season, a Thunder player made the jump to the Bronx.

    Jonathan Loaisiga, the number 12 prospect in the organization, was officially added to the Yankees. He made the start in the Bronx Friday, as New York hosted Tampa Bay in American League East play.

    Loaisiga follows Ryan Bollinger, who was called to the big leagues for one day but did not make an appearance, as 2018 Trenton players to have been on the 25-man active roster with New York. Loaisiga was called up for a spot start, and was dominant for the Yankees.

    He shut down the Rays over five innings, striking out six batters, while allowing just three hits. Loaisiga left the game with a 1-0 lead, and picked up his first major league victory, in the 5-0 Yankees win.

    Thunder manager Jay Bell was excited for his player, and was excited to get back in the clubhouse after Trenton's series opener with Erie to see a replay of Loaisiga's start.

    "By the time we are done he will be out of the game," Bell said. "I think what we are going to do is, we will probably just pull it up on MLB, and just replaying it and watching him. That is what I am thinking about doing."

    There has been an excitement around the clubhouse, as it was pretty well known that Loaisiga would make the start Friday in the Bronx. 

    "They are," Bell said, when asked if his players are excited for Loaisiga. "That was really cool when Ryan got called up. Traditionally, in the Yankees organization, it doesn't happen very often.

    "Most of the time it is Double A to Triple A, Triple A to the big leagues. It is rare that it is Double A to the big leagues. I don't know why that has been. But this year, just because of where the 40-man guys sit, it just made sense for Loaisiga this time.

    "I am excited, and I hope he does well."

    How a frantic 1 a.m. phone call made Jonathan Loaisiga a Yankee

    Bell, as an 18-year veteran player in the majors, with many more years of coaching experience as well, spoke to Loaisiga before he made the trip to the Bronx.

    "We talked, and Norty (Thunder pitching coach Tim Norton) and Louie (Thunder bullpen coach Luis Dorante) were in there," Bell said. "We just chatted with him. I just told him basically how proud I was of him, and how much he has earned it.

    "I think Norty just told him to keep on doing what he has been doing. Of course Louie translated, and told him just to trust Gary (Sanchez), and that he is going to be ready for him. It was good stuff."

    NOTES:

    Down in Trenton, the Thunder dropped a 5-4 result to Erie. Trenton gave up five runs in the top of the eighth, in Justin Kamplain's Double A debut, to waste a great start from Dillon Tate. 

    Tate gave up just four hits, and struck out 10, over his 6.1 innings of work. 

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean


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    A new political action committee, runWOMENserve, is designed to help increase women's presence in the New Jersey Legislature, no matter what their party, by offering financial support for their campaigns.

    When the state Legislature passed a pay-equity bill putting women on an equal basis with male co-workers earlier this year, lawmakers honored former Sen. Diane Allen (R-7th District) by naming the bill after her.

    The new law prohibits companies in New Jersey from paying women less than men when they perform substantially similar work.

    It bars companies from punishing employees for discussing their wages with colleagues, and allows them to sue for triple damages if they can prove they've been victims of discrimination.

    Now the architect of that hard-fought bill, just months into her retirement as the state senator representing Burlington County, has thrown herself into another project designed to upgrade the status of the state's women - and, by extension, all of us.

    Allen's fledgling political action committee, runWOMENserve, is designed to help increase women's presence in the Legislature, no matter what their party, by offering financial support for their campaigns.

    And this is important because although women make up more than half of the state's overall population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, at last count only 30 percent of the seats in the Assembly and Senate are held by women.

    Women are breaking ground in N.J. politics. Here's why

    That's changing, to be sure. Women across the nation have found their collective voices in the Trump Era, resisting the White House's cruel and inhumane policies regarding immigrants, minorities and yes, other women.

    But the picture is still lopsided. Women hold only a quarter of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats according to the National Foundation of Women Legislatures.

    https://www.womenlegislators.org/

    Women also have historically been held back by exclusionary old-boy networks and hampered by a lack of access to funding - the very situation Allen's PAC seeks to remedy.

    "Our legislative bodies must reflect the people we represent. It's that simple," the moderate Republican said during a news conference announcing her initiative.

    "We have different life experiences, and studies show we're better at multitasking than men, generally."

    We're not here to tell you to vote for a woman on the ballot just because she's got the right chromosomes, and neither is Allen.

    But as the creator of runWOMENserve reminded us, female lawmakers in Congress are widely credited with resolving a conflict that shut down the government for more than two weeks several years ago.

    Amidst the bitter recriminations and entrenched positions, a couple of women hammered out an agreement that made their male colleagues sit up and take notice - and they did it not as Republicans or Democrats, but as public servants who put the good of their country before their egos and party affiliation.

    Donors from both the left and the right have already expressed support for Allen's PAC, to the tune of $50,000 in contributions.

    Given the enormous expense of running a political campaign in New Jersey, that's a small but respectable start to bringing women into the electoral mainstream.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

     

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    At 39-27 coming into Saturday's second game of three with Erie, the Thunder are tied for first place with New Hampshire in the Eastern League Eastern Division. Trenton is also five games up on Binghamton for a playoff spot, with the Rumble Ponies coming to town Tuesday through Thursday. Much like the last two seasons, when the Thunder had playoff spots...

    At 39-27 coming into Saturday's second game of three with Erie, the Thunder are tied for first place with New Hampshire in the Eastern League Eastern Division.

    Trenton is also five games up on Binghamton for a playoff spot, with the Rumble Ponies coming to town Tuesday through Thursday. Much like the last two seasons, when the Thunder had playoff spots locked up by early-to-mid August, the opportunity is there once again for Trenton to put some distance between it and the trailing teams.

    Much still depends on movement up and down the organization, but with the depth of pitching in the system, Trenton should be able to keep the momentum moving forward. There is, however, a well known factor that could wreak havoc with any baseball team towards the final third of a campaign: the "Dog Days of summer".

    The "Dog Days", according to the Old Farmer's Almanac, is the period of time, usually from July 3 to August 11, that coincides with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of Sirius (the Dog Star). It goes back to ancient Egypt, where the rising of Sirius came before the flooding of the River Nile, and ancient Greece.

    So what does the most prominent star in Canis Major constellation have to do with baseball? The hot, humid weather of July and early August has some players hitting the proverbial wall, as the 100th game of any season (Double A teams play 140 games, compared to 162 in the majors) starts to wear on a team.

    Thunder manager Jay Bell, who dealt with the summer heat in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City for his first 11 seasons, is well acquainted with the phenomenon.

    Jonathan Loaisiga called up to Yankees from Trenton, gets start Friday

    "It can be," Bell said. "I will tell you this. It is hard to speak for them (the Thunder players). I know for me, traditionally, I was a slow starter, and those middle months were really good for me.

    "Usually around the second week of August, you started getting tired. That is about the time that it usually happens, more than around June. Of course it was a different day and age, back when I was just going to big league camp, and just starting my career (1986).

    "Most players came into spring training out of shape, and used spring training to get into shape. So you were working really hard those five or six weeks, and then right before the season starts, you kind of get tired. And then all of a sudden, you start getting that wind back, and you get hot again.

    "Then around late July, or somewhere in August, you hit it again. Then for me, Septembers were always good. Part of it was, it was starting to cool down in Pennsylvania, and most of the cities I was in. I think a lot of it had to do with the weather.

    "In Pittsburgh, you are talking about major differentials in temperature, just like here. You start out the season and you get snow, and then all of a sudden it is over 100 degrees with humidity. You are talking about an 80 degree differential in temperature, so it plays a factor. Then September rolls around, and it starts cooling back off, and it is beautiful."

    So far this season, the weather has been pretty good, for everyone except the Yankees (New York has played six less games than Boston due to weather issues). Even with 90 degree temperatures rolling into Trenton this weekend, the hottest day of the home stand will occur Monday, on the final off day before the All-Star break.

    "I have no complaints this year," Bell said. "Last week, we were playing in 60s, and I said, 'Man, this feels great.' It felt like September. I think it is a little early for guys to start getting tired. This is the time that they will really start rolling.

    "I would say that it is probably later in July, where they start to (hit the wall). My intention is to try to make sure the guys are well rested, if possible. Especially for the guys who play a lot, I try to give them days off, right before a day off. 

    "But then again, you see the schedule. There haven't been too many days off for us. We have one more before the All-Star Game. I will probably end up having more days inside, just to give them a break from the heat."

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean


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    Paul Pogba saved the day for France, after his goal was confirmed by the goal line technology, to give the Group C favorites a narrow 2-1 victory.

    RESULTS 

    Group C

    France 2-1 Australia

    Peru 0-1 Denmark

    Group D

    Argentina 1-1 Iceland

    Croatia 2-0 Nigeria

    SATURDAY'S FOUR STARS

    One extra game Saturday, so one extra star awarded.

    VAR and Goal Line Technology, France vs. Australia

    VAR (Video Assistant Referee) made its debut at a the World Cup Thursday, joining goal line technology, which has been around since the 2014 World Cup

    Saturday, VAR was used to award a penalty to France, when Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha went to the monitor and saw Joshua Risdon clip Antoine Griezmann inside the box. Griezmann dispatched the penalty, to give Les Bleus a 1-0 lead.

    Paul Pogba saved the day for France, after his goal was confirmed by the goal line technology, to give the Group C favorites a narrow 2-1 victory.

    Hans Thor Halldorsson, Iceland

    While everyone on the planet thought Lionel Messi would step up to lead Argentina, it was Halldorsson that stood out in goal for Iceland.

    Halldorsson saved a 64th minute Messi penalty, then continued to shine for the rest of the half, to give Iceland a massive 1-1 draw. He picked up the Whoscored.com Man of the Match, with a 7.8 rating.

    Kasper Schmeichel, Denmark

    The Leicester City keeper was immense in goal for the Danes. Schmeichel had six saves, and with the help of a missed Peru penalty in the first half, kept a clean sheet to put Denmark even with France. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with an 8.1 score.

    Luka Modric, Croatia

    Coming in off a third straight UEFA Champions League title with Real Madrid, the midfield maestro rated out with a 7.4 on Whoscored.com. His second half penalty killed off the game, and put Croatia at the top of Group D. 

    World Cup 2018 Day 2: Late goals galore, while Cristiano Ronaldo shines

    POGBA SHINES, MESSI FALTERS, AS BIG NAMES TAKE THE STAGE 

    Paul Pogba was the Man of the Match for France, according to the Whoscored.com ratings, with a 7.5. With much of the French team struggling to make an impact on the game, Pogba created, then scored, the game winner. While the FS1 commentators (and probably Graeme Souness in England) continually spoke about Pogba's poor play, the midfielder once again showed why he is such an important part of the France starting 11.

    Messi's missed penalty cost Argentina two points, as it had to share the points with Iceland. It sets the stage for a massive Thursday 2 p.m. EDT showdown with Croatia. 

    SUNDAY SCHEDULE 

    In Group E play, Costa Rica will play Serbia at 8 a.m. EDT on Fox, while Brazil will take on Switzerland at 2 p.m. EDT on FS1. Both games can be watched on Fubo.tv as well.

    In Group F, defending champion Germany will face Mexico at 11 a.m. EDT on FS1, as well as Fubo.tv.

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR SUNDAY

    Germany Mexico is a big match in Group D. Belizean football expert Myron Thiessen thinks this Mexican side can make a deep run in the tournament, and we will know more after this test with the deepest team in the field. 

    Brazil is the tournament favorite, but Neymar may not be back to 100 percent fitness yet, after his fractured foot, which required surgery in March, kept him out of action for almost three months. Can he use the group stage matches to round back into shape? 

    Finally, can Serbia get three points against 2014 darlings Costa Rica, to set up a massive match Friday with Switzerland? The Serbia starting 11 is filled with Premier League players, and they will try to beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas, the Real Madrid keeper coming off his third straight UEFA Champions League title.

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His weekly podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-to-box-football/id1208561351?mt=2

     


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    The event, billed as '24 hours of "community, creativity, and inspiration,' turned to chaos shortly before 3 a.m. Watch video

    Twenty-two people were wounded early Sunday - 17 from gunshots - when multiple people started shooting at each other inside the Art All Night event in Trenton.

    One person, a 33 year-old male, was killed, and suspected to be one of the shooters, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said Sunday morning. Police took a second suspect into custody at the scene.

    During a press conference Sunday, Onofri said authorities "believe" the alleged gunman who died was shot and killed by police.  

    Among the wounded is a 13-year-old boy in extremely critical condition, the prosecutor said.

    What started the shooting is under investigation, but Onofri said Art All Night itself does not appear to have been the target. "All indications are that this was a dispute between individuals that occurred at Art All Night," Onofri said.

    About 1,000 people were at the event when the gunfire erupted.

    The event, billed as "24 hours of "community, creativity, and inspiration," and held at the historic Roebling Wire Works building on South Clinton Avenue, turned to chaos shortly before 3 a.m.

    People ran from the event into nearby streets as police descended on the building and alternately looked for shooters and treated victims.

    Irvin Higgenbotham, a resident who said he comes to the event every year, was shot in the leg early Sunday morning. Higgenbotham said he was walking inside the event with his bike when he heard the shots going off.

    "It was like, pow, pow, pow and then I was laying down on the ground," he said.

    A bullet struck his leg, he said, and a woman who was at the event helped him until he was able to be treated. Higgenbotham returned to the scene of the shooting at about 8:45 a.m. Sunday, after being released form the hospital, to find out what happened, and how he got caught in the middle of the shooting, he said.

    Onofri described a chaotic and confusing scene early on: Trenton police were swamped with 911 calls reporting a shooting inside the venue, and the first police officers on scene radioed they needed critical assistance and backup.

    Trenton police were working off-duty security at the event, and there were no metal detectors inside the building, authorities said. The event occurs both inside and outdoors.

    Police later recovered firearms at the scene. 

    Videos posted on social media showed police and attendees huddling behind cars and helping the wounded.

    Maurice Lennon, 31, said he wanted to get one last look at the art inside the building with his friend early Sunday when he heard gunfire.

    "We heard the first shots ring out inside the art gallery. The first shot, then the second shot before it resonated that: Wow that's gunfire," Lennon, of Trenton said in a phone interview Sunday. "You saw the doors bust open, everyone starting running out and panicking. I ended up getting tripped and fell and I ended up crawling."

    Lennon said he has cuts on his legs and arms from crawling and being stepped on by other people fleeing the shooting.

    "I've gone to this event for several years. I've been going for the past several years, never anything like this," Lennon said. "I've always bragged that this is Trenton's best event ... it's always peaceful I've always felt safe."

    An Art All Night Facebook page said Sunday it was canceling the rest of the event.

    A major police presence remained in the area later Sunday.

    This is the event's 12th year.

    Seventeen people, including 13 with gunshot wounds, were taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, spokeswoman Kate Stier said. Four of the victims are in critical condition; the alleged gunman was declared dead at the hospital.

    None of the surviving victims had been released as of 11:20 a.m., but Stier said some are expected to be released later Sunday.

    Outside the event space in Trenton Sunday morning, tables with food and drinks were abandoned and trash cans turned over, with garbage littered around the area as investigators remained on the scene.

    Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson issued a statement Sunday saying he was saddened that the shooting happened on Father's Day during what is typically a very positive event.

    "All shootings -- whether multiple or singular, whether in a city or a suburb -- are a crisis," Jackson, a Democrat, said. "In Trenton we have been tackling this issue for quite some time. This can't be discarded as just random violence; this is a public health issue."

    Trenton's mayor-elect, state Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15th Dist.), issued a statement saying he attended Art All Night Saturday, and was unsure about the popular event's future.

    "I hope that Art All Night does continue but we are going to have to reevaluate security measures in the future," he said. "It will be a top priority of my administration to make Trenton a safer city." 

    Reporters Karen Yi, Bill Duhart, and Sophie Nieto-Munoz contributed to this report.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Erie (31-36) completed the three-game sweep of the Thunder (39-29) Sunday, with a 4-0 victory.

    Yankees pitcher Luis Cessa has been out of action for two months with an oblique injury.

    The reliever-slash-spot starter is working his way back to health, and possibly back into the Yankees' plans, should the need arise.

    Cessa made a rehab start in Trenton Saturday night against Erie, and breezed through four innings of work. He threw 46 pitches (31 for strikes), and allowed just two hits, an unearned run, and struck out four, in the 10-2 loss.

    It was a welcome sight, after his first start back with Tampa on June 11, after the long layoff, did not go as well. But it is just about getting back out there on the mound, and getting back in game shape, to try and help the organization.

    "The first start, when I threw in Clearwater, it was like a bullpen, or trying to work on something," Cessa said. "It was the first game, and thanks to God, I worked this week, and focused on my pitches like I usually do. 

    "You need the rhythm to the game. Right now, I am just trying to do the same thing I was doing before the injury. It is a little hard to get back into that rhythm, especially with the oblique injury. You use that for everything.

    "I am still doing my exercises, and my rehab. The doctors say I am fine, so I started to do my normal routine. I am close to coming back. I throw my normal pitches, my normal delivery, and I am not thinking about the next pitch maybe feeling it. Thank God I feel great, and I am not feeling everything."

    With halfway point looming, Thunder hope to continue solid season

    "I has been frustrating," Cessa said. "I stay here, and watch the game on tv. I feel great, that is the good thing for me right now. I am just waiting for my opportunity again, and just try to stay healthy and do a really good job.

    "I don't know what will happen to me right now. Maybe, I need to throw one more start, because I just threw four innings. I need to be ready to start again. So maybe I will throw 100 pitches or so, one more start. I don't know whether it is here or Scranton."

    The pitching situation in New York is vastly different than when he first went on the 10-Day DL after his last appearance April 17. Jordan Montgomery is out long term with an elbow injury, and Masahiro Tanaka is out with two strained hamstrings.

    Jonathan Loaisiga went from Trenton to New York and won his major league debut Friday night, and has now has a chance to stick with the club. Tommy Kanhle is also an option from Triple A.

    "Right now, I don't have a particular spot," Cessa said. "So I will be ready to come from the bullpen, sometimes as the long man in the bullpen, sometimes to throw one inning. 

    "We have a couple of injuries in the bullpen right now, with Montgomery and Tanaka. Maybe, if I stay healthy I have the opportunity for a start. I just need to be ready. If they need a reliever, I need to be ready. If they need a starter, I need to be ready.

    "You need to stay ready. Before we went into spring training, they told me, 'We need you. We don't know if it is to start, or to relieve, but just be ready when we call you.' It is different for each.

    "If you are preparing for a start, you have a normal routine. You play catch before the game, you stretch. In the bullpen, you are sitting there, and they say, "Cessa is up,' and you have to throw 10 pitches in the bullpen and be ready. That is the difference.

    "This is my third year in the big leagues, and the last two years I had the same thing, going back and forth between starter and reliever. So now I have a better idea of what I have to do before the game. I just have to be ready."

    NOTES:

    Erie (31-36) completed the three-game sweep of the Thunder (39-29) Sunday, with a 4-0 victory.

    Trenton has Monday off, before Tim Tebow and Binghamton come to town Tuesday for the first of three games. The Thunder then play 12 of their next 17 on the road, before the All-Star break.

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean


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    Supreme Court ruling discounts secular history of Colonial-era churches

    The First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains in Pequannock was built before there was a New Jersey, a United States, or a Constitution of either one.

    When the first Dutch settlers came in the early 1700s and gathered to worship in what today is Pequannock Township, there was no delineated separation of church and state. Similar to many colonial settlements, the church was established before the government. The First Reformed Church, like many 18th and 19th century churches, was the centerpiece of the towns that grew up around it.

    In Pequannock, the bright white church, built in 1769 with its towering steeple, is directly across from town hall. A pathway of brick pavers across the Newark-Pompton Turnpike, the main street in town, connect the two anchor structures of the downtown.

    "We like to say we are at the intersection of faith and life," said pastor Kathleen Edwards-Chase.

    Life at the church means opening its doors to 17 non-religious organizations, including a town choral group, Belle Voce, and volunteer a service network called Community Partners for Hope, which feeds the hungry and helps the drug-addicted. An Alzheimer's support group meets there, as does Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Faith and life intersect at the Church of Redeemer in Morristown, which feeds dozens of homeless and poor every day at its Community Soup Kitchen.

    These two churches, and 10 others in Morris County, are hoping to challenge a recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that prohibits government funding for historic preservation of active houses of worship.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns 

    The case was brought to the court by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and a group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which argued that a Morris County program of awarding historic preservation funds to churches was unconstitutional.

    The ruling is legally correct. The New Jersey Constitution, adopted on July 2, 1776, specifically says, no person should be "be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for building or repairing any church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry ..."

    In the April ruling, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said a Morris County program that awarded $4.6 million in historic preservation funds to active churches "ran afoul" of the "plain language" in the state constitution that "bars the use of taxpayer funds to repair and restore churches."

    But here's the problem. The intersection of life and faith at these churches also is an intersection with history.

    How do you separate them from their role in American history? 

    Among the original 13 colonies, the Presbyterian churches were centers of intense patriot fervor.

    For instance, Rev. James Caldwell was a significant revolutionary force. He was pastor of the Connecticut Farms Presbyterian Church in Union. The murder of his wife, at the church parsonage during the Battle of Springfield, is depicted on the seal of the Union County government flag. He's buried at First Presbyterian in Elizabeth, and both Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr went to school on church property.

    At the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, Caldwell rallied the troops, who took position in the church to fire at Loyalists and British Troops.

    Presbyterian churches in Succasunna and Mendham were used as small pox hospitals for the Continental Army during the Morristown Encampments and both cemeteries hold the bodies of dead soldiers.

    At the First Presbyterian Church in Orange, 78 men who fought in the Revolution are buried.

    St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Trenton was in the center of the Christmas battle there that turned the momentum of the war.

    At these various houses of worship, church and state are inextricably linked. Many are on the national and state historic registries because they are a part of America's secular history.

    That was the logic behind Morris County granting $4.6 million for exterior church repairs. Exterior. That's an important word to remember as the county and churches petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

    "The New Jersey Court didn't recognize that the purpose of these grants is not to further worship or religion, but to preserve the history of these churches and protect their architectural significance," said attorney Kenneth Wilbur of the law firm Drinker Biddle in Florham Park, who is representing the 12 churches.

    "The architecture is a very important piece of this," he said. "It gives us a good snapshot of the trends of the time."

    The steeple at the Pequannock Church, for example, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of London's St. Paul's Cathedral, one of the world's most spectacular structures and the most visited.

    The church was a documented stop on "Rochambeau's March," when 7,000 French soldiers trekked from New England to Yorktown, Va., to support George Washington's army in 1781.

    The property was also a documented stop on the Underground Railroad, some 80 years later. And this is where the separation of church and state ruling gets a little convoluted.

    The minister's home at Pequannock is called the Giles Mandeville house. It was built in 1789 and was not part of the church. A subsequent owner opened his home to runaway slaves prior to the Civil War. The church bought it about 100 years later.

    If the home were never put in church hands, it would easily qualify for historic grants. But now, it is ineligible.

    The Pequannock church received $700,000 from the county to fix and beautify the exteriors of three buildings at the heart of the town.

    Pastor Edwards-Chase says this is another part of the case being overlooked. 

    "If these types of buildings are allowed to deteriorate, it impacts the whole town," she said. "People here, not just parishioners, value our historic buildings. They're proud of them because of the way they reflect on the community."

    This is true. The aesthetic character of the Morristown Green, for example, is set by the light colored stone and Romanesque Revival architecture of the Presbyterian Church and darker puddingstone of the United Methodist Church.

    On grounds of the Presbyterian Church, George Washington received Holy Communion. A stained glass window in the church commemorates it. Under the Morris program, county funds could go to protect it. Under this ruling, they can not. In that window, the intersection of faith and American history are illuminated. 

    And so, the irony of the court ruling is this: these churches did their part in the fight for the very freedom that is now being used to deny help with their upkeep.

    There has to be a better solution.

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@starledger.com. Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook. 


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    Twenty-two people were wounded early Sunday - 17 from gunshots - when multiple people started shooting at each other inside the Art All Night event in Trenton.


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    Murphy - who signed some of the strictest gun laws in the nation Wednesday - reminded Trentonians during the service that through faith and community, "we can rise above this." Watch video

    Hours after a deadly shooting at the Art All Night festival in Trenton left one dead and 22 injured, Gov. Phil Murphy spoke during a Sunday service at the Galilee Baptist Church in Trenton, offering words of encouragement and prayers to the community.

    Murphy - who signed some of the strictest gun laws in the nation just four days before the violent shooting - reminded Trentonians during the service that through faith and community, "we can rise above this."

    "It's yet another reminder of the senseless gun violence, even having signed six stringent gun laws last week," Murphy said at a press conference following the service. "We know we're getting stronger and better but we're a long way from getting rid of this senselessness."

    IMG_1121.JPGGov. Phil Murphy prayed with Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson and Mayor-Elect Reed Gusciora at Galilee Baptist Church. 

    In the early hours of Sunday morning, gunfire erupted at the Roebling Wire Works Building. A suspected gunman, a 33-year-old male, was killed by police, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said.

    Police said another suspect is in custody.  

    "Sounds like it was some sort of dispute -- We will bring the full weight of law and justice against them. As it related to Art All Night -- it tells me we need it now more than ever before. Events that will bring the community together," Murphy said. 

    Seventeen of the 22 injured victims were shot, including a 13-year old boy who is in extremely critical condition, officials said. 

    After speaking during the service, Murphy made a brief visit to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where many of the shooting victims were taken. 

    Art All Night was celebrating its 12th year as a Trenton tradition featuring art, music and film. About 1,000 people were at the 24-hour event when the gunfire erupted. 

    The investigation is ongoing, officials said. 

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz.

    Paige Gross may be reached at pgross@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @By_paigegross Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Murphy - who signed some of the strictest gun laws in the nation Wednesday - reminded Trentonians during the mass that through faith and community, "we can rise above this."

     

    By Sophie Nieto-Munoz and Paige Gross | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

    Hours after a deadly shooting at the Art All Night festival in Trenton left one dead and 22 injured, Gov. Phil Murphy spoke during a Sunday service at the Galilee Baptist Church in Trenton, offering words of encouragement and prayers to the community.

    Murphy - who signed some of the strictest gun laws in the nation just four days before the violent shooting - reminded Trentonians during the mass that through faith and community, "we can rise above this."

    "It's yet another reminder of the senseless gun violence, even having signed six stringent gun laws last week," Murphy said at a press conference following the mass. "We know we're getting stronger and better but we're a long way from getting rid of this senselessness."

    IMG_1121.JPGGov. Phil Murphy prayed with Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson and Mayor-Elect Reed Gusciora at Galilee Baptist Church.Paige Gross 

    In the early hours of Sunday morning, gunfire erupted at the Roebling Wire Works Building. A suspected gunman, a 33-year-old male, was killed by police, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said.

    Police said another suspect is in custody.  

    "Sounds like it was some sort of dispute -- We will bring the full weight of law and justice against them. As it related to Art All Night -- it tells me we need it now more than ever before. Events that will bring the community together," Murphy said. 

    How NJ is addressing gun violence and how it'll shape legislature moving forward. pic.twitter.com/KxXdRzqenn

    -- Paige Gross (@By_paigegross) June 17, 2018

    Seventeen of the 22 injured victims were shot, including a 13-year old boy who is in extremely critical condition, officials said. 

    After speaking during the service, Murphy made a brief visit to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where many of the shooting victims were taken. 

    N.j. Gov. Phil Murphy visits hospital where 15 gunshot victims taken Sunday. pic.twitter.com/yV1k0lhka3

    -- Bill Duhart (@bduhart) June 17, 2018

    Art All Night was celebrating its 12th year as a Trenton tradition featuring art, music and film. About 1,000 people were at the 24-hour event when the gunfire erupted. 

    The investigation is ongoing, officials said. 

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz.

    Paige Gross may be reached at pgross@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @By_paigegross Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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