For years, J&S Seafood, a fast-food place that sells the likes of fried shrimp, whitefish, and mozzarella sticks and which stays open after the bars close, has been a magnet for Chester's young night owls.

And, according to police and people in the neighborhood, it has been a magnet for trouble.

They say it is a big reason that the intersection of Ninth and Kerlin Streets in Delaware County's largest city has become a Hell's Corner - one of the region's most violent.

"It's a hot spot," Police Capt. Anita Amaro said Monday, the day after yet another shooting near the restaurant, in a tiny strip mall near where Concord Avenue slices into Kerlin Street. Others have occurred across the street, including one earlier this month in which the city controller was wounded.

In the last decade, police have responded to trouble calls at J&S 59 times - mostly between 2:30 and 4:30 a.m. - according to Police Commissioner Joseph Bail, including three times for killings.

In the most recent incident, police say a Chester woman was killed and two others were critically wounded early Sunday by Edwin Soto Jr., who turned the gun on himself.

Soto was in fair condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Police on Monday charged Soto, 21, of Chester, with murder, aggravated assault, and other offenses.

Amaro identified the other two gunshot victims as Magina "Maggie" Slowe, 22, and Darryl Moore, both also of Chester, and both in critical condition at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

Bail has said that he believed that the shooting occurred after a domestic dispute flared inside the restaurant.

Efforts to reach the J&S owner were unsuccessful. A yellow sign taped on the front door announced that the city has closed the restaurant indefinitely. The phone evidently has been disconnected.

One reason the restaurant has been so popular is that its location near downtown draws young people from the east and west ends, said Elijah "Wellz" Foster, of the Brothers of Concern, a Chester group that is working to curb violence in the city. But he said the shop's hours might be a recipe for problems.

"I wouldn't want to be there at 2 in the morning," he said.

The corner was peaceful two summers ago, recalled Jamil Bost, part owner of a clothing shop in the strip mall. That is when police were stationing a car in the area in the early-morning hours when the city had a "state of emergency" in effect after a rash of shootings.

However, less than a day after the emergency was lifted, a man was fatally shot outside J&S.

"We definitely need beefed-up police presence," Bost said.

Foster said that given all the other problem spots in the city, it might be unrealistic to have a squad car assigned to any one area. "It's impossible for police to sit still," he said.

In all, since the curfew was lifted, five shootings have occurred near the intersection, four of those since September.

Besides the weekend incident, on the afternoon of Feb. 11, City Controller Edith Blackwell and Brennen Johnson, 25, were shot and wounded at the nearby Sunoco Station and A Plus market.

They were hospitalized, but their wounds were not life-threatening. Police said Blackwell evidently was a bystander but did not speculate on whether Johnson was a target.

On Dec. 9, Mohammed Fareed, 56, of Bucks County, was fatally shot during an attempted robbery of the gas station. And six people were shot and wounded outside of J&S on Sept. 11.

Foster of the Brothers of Concern group said that too many of the city's youth appear to be "acclimated to crime." But he said his group, which has mentoring and other programs aimed at steering young people from violence, isn't ready to give up."

"We have to keep trying," he said. "We just can't lie down."

Contact staff writer Anthony R. Wood at 610-761-8423 or