The West Oak Lane businessman said he's worked 11 years in the neighborhood, only daring to walk west of 21st Street and Chelten Avenue twice during that time.

"I'll drive, I don't walk," said the man, who did not want his name or that of his business to appear in print for fear of retaliation.

The block of Chelten between 21st and 22nd has been well-known for drug activity for about 25 years, the man said yesterday. "That area is the root of the problem. Cut that out and it'll be a good neighborhood."

It was there, at 21st and Chelten, that shots rang out Saturday night, injuring three adults and a 6-year-old girl in front of Klubb Acacia social club, police said.

People were ordering food in front of the club shortly before 9:30 p.m. when two men began firing into the crowd from across the street, police spokeswoman Officer Tanya Little said.

The businessman said he was waxing his car on a hot, balmy evening, "a regular night," when it began to "sound like the wild, wild West."

Some people started running, others began ducking. Still others believed that the bullets piercing the air were firecrackers, he said.

The four victims - whose names were withheld - were taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center by private vehicle, Little said.

The men were listed in critical condition. The girl was stabilized and then transported to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Little said. The girl, shot in her right thigh, was in critical but stable condition.

The motive for the shooting was unknown, and no arrests had been made, Little said.

The club is a tax-exempt nonprofit association, according to www.taxexempt

The sounds of gunfire are too common in the neighborhood, the businessman said.

"There are shootings here every other night, believe me," said the man.

The cops do their jobs and raid the drug houses, he said, but soon afterward the operations are back in business.

"The city has to keep them shut down," he said.