Alleged Art All Night gunman held pending trial contends police shot him in the back and he didn’t fire a shot
TRENTON » Alleged Art All Night gunman Davone White has been indicted on allegations he pointed a loaded pistol at a Trenton cop and in the direction of numerous civilians during the 24-hour arts festival that ended in chaos and bloodshed June 17.
Authorities are still awaiting ballistics test results to confirm whether White fired his black Tanfoglio handgun, but the Superior Court on Friday ordered the city man to be jailed without bail pending final resolution of his case, firmly convinced the defendant pulled the trigger.
“It’s a serious danger to the community — possession of a firearm at a public event,” Judge Anthony Massi said Friday at White’s detention hearing, “and discharging that firearm.”
White, 27, limped into the courtroom Friday afternoon with his right arm tucked in a black sling, finally appearing in court after suffering from gunshot wounds in the Art All Night 2018 gunplay three months ago. Shackled in chains and sporting an orange Mercer County Correction Center jumpsuit, White mostly kept his head down while his lawyer argued he was too wounded to be dangerous.
“He can barely walk now,” defense attorney Christopher Olsen said, suggesting the court should release his client from jail due to his “severe” injuries and “extensive nerve damage.”
“He is not a danger to the community,” Olsen said of White. “He’s not a risk of fleeing. He’s not a risk of failure to appear.”
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Heather Hadley said the defense at a future date could submit medical reports and request a new detention hearing at that time. White aimed a loaded weapon and “was ready to shoot it” at a public event that had 500 to over 1,000 people in attendance, Hadley argued. She acknowledged ballistics test results are pending, meaning the state as of Friday afternoon did not have any proof the recovered Tanfoglio pistol was discharged.
After Judge Massi ordered White to be placed on pretrial detention, Olsen said he will get the medical records and file for the detention hearing to be reopened. White denies firing a weapon at the arts event held at the Roebling Wire Works warehouse in Trenton’s North Ward.
“It’s his position he never fired the weapon,” Olsen said in an interview following the detention hearing. “It’s his position he was shot from behind.”
White says a police officer shot him from behind, resulting in his serious injuries, Olsen said. White collapsed in the middle of the roadway near the intersection of Dye and Genesee streets, and authorities say they recovered a handgun in close proximity to the defendant.
White has an extensive criminal history going back to his days as a juvenile, which includes an adult conviction of third-degree aggravated assault, a violent crime that resulted in him being sentenced March 9 to non-custodial probation for two years.
The New Jersey Judiciary’s Public Safety Assessment rated White as being at the highest risk of committing new criminal activity and the highest risk of failing to appear in court for mandatory proceedings. The PSA issued a “no release” recommendation.
A grand jury on Thursday handed up an indictment charging White and another defendant, Amir Armstrong, with weapons offenses.
White has been indicted on one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun without a permit to carry, one count of second-degree possession of a pistol for an unlawful purpose, one count of fourth-degree possession of a large-capacity ammunition magazine, one count of fourthdegree aggravated assault on allegations he pointed a pistol at Trenton Police Detective Eliezer Ramos, another count of fourthdegree aggravated assault on allegations he pointed a firearm at numerous unidentified civilians, and one count of second-degree certain persons not to possess a firearm stemming from his prior aggravated assault conviction.
Armstrong, 24, has been indicted on one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a silver handgun without a permit to carry and one count of third-degree receiving stolen property on allegations he possessed a handgun that had been stolen. Armstrong, who was shot in the head in the Art All Night gunplay, was ordered to pretrial detention several weeks ago.
The Mercer County Homicide Task Force continues to investigate the shooting that erupted during the early morning hours of June 17. Police shot and killed 32-year-old Tahaij Wells in the apparent gunfight that transpired when cops were attempting to shut down the rowdy event. Wells would have likely been charged with weapons offenses if he survived.
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office has released surveillance video, body-cam footage and 9-1-1 recordings from the Art All Night mass shooting that injured at least 22 people, including 17 who suffered gunshot wounds.
(left to right) Amir Armstrong, Tahaij Wells and Davone White