A 36-year-old Camden man, who police say was a bystander, was shot and killed early Friday inside the Crown Fried Chicken restaurant on the corner of Broadway and Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Another man, a 22-year-old Camden resident, was shot in the incident.
According to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, an altercation broke out at the restaurant about 5 a.m. between the shooter, his friend, and a group of other men. The homicide victim, whose name has not been released, was sitting in a booth with a woman during the fight. Once the incident turned violent, the pair attempted to escape, and the man was struck by a stray bullet. The shooter and his friend were observed fleeing in a new model pickup truck.
The incident occured at the very fried chicken restaurant that has been at the center of much debate over the city's attempt to shut down late-night eateries in an effort to curb crime.
Camden Mayor Dana Redd pushed a business curfew ordinance last year, citing a correlation between crime and late-night businesses such as Chinese take-out stores and several Crown Fried Chicken stores. But the threat of a lawsuit caused city officials to amend the ordinance twice before City Council approved the final version in August.
The curfew, as currently written, mandates that businesses in residential zones or within 200 feet of a residential zone close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and between midnight and 6 a.m. on weekends. It does not apply to pharmacies or businesses holding liquor licenses or selling fuel. However, gas station mini-marts within 200 feet of residential zones would have to close.
As soon as the ordinance went into effect last year, Frank Fulbrook, along with a few Camden business owners filed a lawsuit against the city, citing "economic freedom."
The city has yet to enforce the curfew. City officials said in October they wanted to give businesses ample time to adjust to the new hours of operation. But maybe they are just waiting to get a final word from the courts?
A trial is scheduled for May 8 in Superior Court.
Curfew opponent Frank Fulbrook said Friday evening that even if the curfew had been imposed, it would not have affected the Broadway Food Court restaurant where the shooting took place.
"That one doesn't even apply," he said, citing the city's own 200-foot rule.
From my most recent story on the issue, Oct. 21:
Which businesses fall within Camden's 200 feet is not yet clear. After the ordinance went into effect Sept. 19, Fulbrook's attorney, John Calzaretto, contacted a surveyor who claimed that the Broadway Food Court, at Broadway and Mickle Boulevard, is 527 feet from the nearest residential zone. He said he also believes two other late-night take-out stores on Broadway are at least 300 feet away from a residential zone.
Calzaretto asked the city for a certified list of the businesses that would be within the 200-foot rule but he said he was told the city was under no obligation to provide such a list. To read more, click HERE.