Attempted kidnapping results in early morning Norristown gun battle

This car was among the many vehicles and homes struck by bullets during the early-morning shooting on East Moore Street.
This car was among the many vehicles and homes struck by bullets during the early-morning shooting on East Moore Street. (TOM KELLY IV / For The Inquirer)
Posted: August 09, 2012

Three people were shot and seriously wounded in Norristown early Tuesday in what investigators were calling a beef over an unpaid debt that turned into an attempted kidnapping.

Law enforcement officials were struggling to piece together the chain of events that resulted in a hail of bullets on the 300 block of East Moore Street.

The shooting occurred at 4:30 a.m. as residents slept in the usually quiet neighborhood of brick rowhouses, some with grassy side yards, in Norristown's east end.

Kevin Steele, Montgomery County first assistant district attorney, said a small group of men from Philadelphia tried to collect a debt from a Norristown man who lives on the block.

"When he wasn't home, they took his girlfriend," who was beaten and bound, and placed in the trunk of a black sedan, Steele said. "When he showed up, there was a gun battle," Steele said.

The evidence of a hailstorm of bullets was everywhere: four holes in the door of the targeted house and others through its shattered front window, one that flattened the tire of a car parked across the street, and one through the front window of the home next door to the targeted home.

The car in which the woman was locked was riddled with bullet holes, but she was not struck. "She was lucky," Steele said.

Two injured men were flown by helicopter to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where they were under police guard. A third was hospitalized, but it wasn't known where.

As of late Tuesday, there were no arrests.

Jamar Baird, 33, who lives next door to the targeted house with fiancee Mary English and children ages 5, 12, and 18, said he was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by machine gun fire.

He called 911 and then dressed and opened his front door to find one victim "lying on the ground."

"It was crazy," said Baird, a Norristown barber. He watched three ambulances take the wounded from the scene.

The bullet that pierced Baird's front window went through the living room wall and landed in the kitchen. Had Baird, English, or the children been downstairs at the time, they could have been hit, he said.

Baird said he had rented the home on the block for 21/2 years and had always thought it was a safe place to raise a family.

"I'm thinking of moving," he said.

According to the Breaking News network, which monitors police radio traffic, a machine gun was recovered at the crime scene.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or Read her blog "MontCo Memo" on

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