In Downtown Lowell, Shots Fired, Then Chaos
LOWELL -- Just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Joe Quinn received a call from one of the managers at his Jimmy’s John’s downtown.
“He pretty much said ‘I don’t know how to say this, but somebody just got shot and ran into our store and is on the ground bleeding,’” he recalled.
A panicked Quinn, who co-owns the business at 134 Merrimack St. and a second location at 277 Pawtucket St., sprinted to the scene from home.
His mind raced because he didn’t know who was shot, or if his employees were OK.
“My worst nightmare was one of our employees getting hurt,” he said, “or one of our customers getting hurt.”
The victim, a 23-year-old man, was shot in the chest, according to police.
The alleged male shooter, described as a black male driving a gray 2005 Honda Accord, remains at large, police Capt. Jonathan Webb said.
The suspect vehicle identified has a Massachusetts license plate, number 9NE121, and is registered out of Hyde Park in Boston.
Quinn said his manager and employees told him the victim was shot a couple doors away.
“I guess we were the the next open door and he came in clutching his chest and went up to the register area and then kind of went back toward the front door and that’s where I understand he collapsed,” Quinn said. “It seemed like we had every cop, every EMT, in our store.”
The business owner said the scene was traumatic. The store is closed Thursday to give employees a much-needed day off, he said. He plans to reopen Jimmy John’s on Friday.
Quinn said it was his first time seeing anything like this in his few years of being in downtown Lowell.
The victim was taken from the scene Wednesday by ambulance to Lowell General Hospital right after the sun had set on downtown. He was then transported by MedFlight helicopter to a Boston-area hospital, according to Webb.
At El Potro, manager William Interiano said the restaurant was affected because the area was blocked off by police.
“We had a party here, so we stayed but they wouldn’t let you go through,” Interiano said in Spanish.
Asked if he felt fear, Interiano shook his head no.
Standing inside Humanity Boutique, owner Ani Vong said went into work Thursday expecting a swarm of reporters and police. But luckily that didn’t happen, she said.
Vong said she was at her business until about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Hours later, one of her vendors called her asking if she was OK. According to Vong, the vendor said her friend was eating next door and sent her a text message that “a man got shot right around here.”
“Of course I would hope that the man is recovering well... that is completely first and foremost,” she said. “As a business owner in downtown, it’s just awful for something like that to happen here because there’s already a stigma about Lowell and, to add, this awful thing had to happen right in our main street. It’s on the main street, in downtown. I know a lot of people might have reservations right now walking around, feeling uneasy and I don’t blame them.”
Early Thursday morning, a man pushing a hand truck paused in front of Quinn’s Jimmy John’s to read a sign by the entrance. “WE WILL BE CLOSED THURSDAY. OUR Employees are all safe and sound,” the paper read. “Come see us at 277 Pawtucket St.” Signed, JJ’s Downtown Lowell.
“That’s no good. It’s no good,” the man, who declined to share his name, said after hearing about the shooting in the area Wednesday night. “It’s sad to hear that.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.