|DA John Morganelli grew up on the south side|
On Friday, Morganelli announced that two of three shooters in this gunfight, both Allentown men, have been charged. Rene Figueroa, age 32, faces homicide and related charges, including the use of a stolen .45 caliber pistol. Javier Rivera-Alverado, age 38, has also been charged with attempted homicide and aggravated assault. Neither man possessed a license to carry.
Both remain hospitalized at St. Luke's Hospital and are under guard.
A third shooter, Orialis Figueroa, age 38, and no relation to Rene Figueroa, will face no charges. According to Morganelli, he was defending himself and others. "His actions may have saved other lives that night," stated Morganelli.
Am incidental bumping inside the Puerto Rican Beneficial Club is what led to the shooting, according to court documents filed by Bethlehem police.
None of the participants in this firefight are club members, but were there for an "open night."
The two charged shooters - Rene Figueroa and Javier Rivera-Alverado - were at the club together and were concerned by another group that was supposedly eyeing up Rene Figueroa's gold jewelry.
This other group consisted of Orialis Figueroa, who was at the club with his brother, Angel Figueroa, age 35, and his nephew, Luis Rivera, age 24. Orialis was also accompanied by his girlfriend and her friend, Yolanda Morales. They are from the Easton area.
|Lieutenant Mark DiLuzio, Criminal Investigations|
After the threat, Orialis Figueroa decided to leave, and waited at the club's front door for his girlfriend. Because the club was ready to close, and she would likely leave with a crowd that included the same people who threatened him, Orialis retrieved a baseball bat from her car for protection. But as he turned around along the sidewalk, he was ambushed by Rivera-Alvarado.
Pointing a handgun at Orialis Figueroa's head, Rivera-Alvarado taunted him and fired several shots into his legs.
Just as this happened, Yolanda Morales and Angel Figueroa approached. Rivera-Alvarado turned and fired at them, too. "I'm hit," said Morales. Rivera-Alvarado then turned and shot Luis Rivera.
While Rivera-Alvarado was turned, Orialis Figueroa, despite his wounds, managed to strike Rivera-Alvarado in the back of the head with the baseball bat. Rivera-Alverado collapsed to the ground.
Orialis Figueroa took Rivera-Alvarado's handgun and went to assist Angel Figueroa and Yolanda Morales. Rivera-Alvarado's friend, Rene Figueroa, was trying, with a handgun he had taken from his waistband, to get a clear shot at Angel Figueroa. Yolanda Martinez inserted herself between Rene and Angel Figueroa. Rene Figueroa just shot her. After that, he gunned down Angel Figueroa and began shooting at Orialis Figueroa, who was returning fire.
Rene Figueroa then ran back into the club and ran around the metal detector in all the chaos, giving his handgun to someone to hide for him, after which he collapsed from his wounds. Bethlehem police found it inside the club's bathroom. It has been reported stolen from Jones Gun Shop in Allentown. They continue to search for the person who hid it. The other handgun was retrieved from underneath the hood of a car.
In addition to witness statements, Bethlehem police have retrieved surveillance video from the club. District Attorney Morganelli praised them for their "excellent job piecing this together." He has assigned prosecution of this case to First Assistant DA Terry Houck.
According to Morganelli, it is too early in the prosecution to say whether the Commonwealth will seek the death penalty against Rene Figueroa.
Rene Figueroa has faced criminal charges before. In 1999 and 2006, he was charged with several firearms offenses, and entered pleas. In 2004, he entered a plea to drug offenses.