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Coroner IDs man fatally shot by police in Allentown; handgun, shell casings recovered

Police-involved shooting at Eighth and Maple in Allentown
Samara Ahmed
Allentown police say an officer returned fire on a man who pulled a gun near Eighth and Maple streets. The shooting happened near where the van is parked at right, on Maple Street, on Friday night Feb. 10, 2023.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Authorities have identified a 20-year-old from Coplay as the man fatally shot by city police Friday night.

Xavier Arnold was pronounced dead at 8:39 p.m. at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, said Lehigh County Coroner Daniel Buglio.

  • A man died after being chased and shot by police in Allentown
  • He was identified as Xavier Arnold, 20, of Coplay
  • No other injuries were reported but an officer's protective vest was nicked by a projectile, the DA said

Buglio said Arnold suffered gunshot injuries but he did not specify how many. An autopsy is set for Monday to determine the cause of death, the coroner said.

The shooting by police happened about 8:10 p.m. in Center City, near Eighth and Maple streets. Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said police recovered a semi-automatic weapon from Arnold at the scene, as well as shell casings believed to have been fired from the gun.

According to an Allentown Police Department news release, police witnessed someone being assaulted near Eighth and Maple and pursued the suspect. As officers gave chase, police said, the man brandished a gun and fired at officers.

An officer returned fire, wounding the man. Assistant Chief Michael Becker said police gave aid and the man was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he died.

Officer's vest nicked by projectile

No officers were hurt, but the district attorney's office said one of the officers was struck by a projectile that penetrated his uniform shirt and nicked his bulletproof vest.

The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation, which may take weeks, Martin said.

"The investigation will include a detailed review of all available audio and video recordings of the incident," Martin said in a news release Saturday afternoon. "While the investigation is ongoing, it is anticipated that there will be no further release of any of this evidence."

The shooting happened not far from a cluster of bars and dining spots, as well as the PPL Center, although no hockey game or concert was held Friday night.

Mayor Matt Tuerk was asked about the location of the shooting, in an area that attracts folks from outside the city.

“We're concerned when crime happens in Allentown, period,” he said. “Our police have the job of preserving public safety across the City of Allentown. This looks like an unusual and isolated incident. It is abnormal to say the least and it doesn’t reflect a trend in any way.”

Evidence marks from police-involved shooting near Eighths
Samara Ahmed
Chalk marks the sidewalk on Maple Street, near Eighth Street, in Allentown where police say they shot a man Friday night Feb. 10, 2023, after he pulled a gun and opened fire during a running chase.

A Lehigh Valley Phantoms game is set for tonight at the PPL Center. Tuerk said he has been in regular communication with Police Chief Charles Roca about Friday night’s shooting.

“Our next step with patrol is to continue to provide the highest level of service to our residents and stakeholders,” said Tuerk, in his second year as mayor. “We have work to do on taking care of the folks that were involved.

“We have an administrative process that we follow, and as employees of the City of Allentown, we're working to get everyone involved the level of care they need and give them the professional support they need as police.”

Police ask anyone with information to call detectives at 610-437-7721 or the police desk at 610-437-7753 (Ext. 1). Also, anonymous text tips can be sent via the Tip411 App available on the Allentown Police Facebook Page or via the Allentown Police Department website, police said.

Becker said no further details on the officer-involved shooting will be released at this time.

The investigation is being conducted by the Allentown Police Department, the Lehigh County Homicide Task Force, Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office and the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office.

Treyvonn Cephas, who lives near where the shooting occurred, said he was returning home from dinner nearby to find streets blocked off around 9 p.m.

"I did not expect to come home to a shooting happening," he said. "It definitely took me by surprise.

"... I was walking back and there were lights, cars everywhere. It was chaos. It’s crazy that things like that keep happening, but I guess it happens everywhere."

“The individual had a gun and the individual lost his life and it goes back to guns. A gun played a role in this death. And a gun played a role in everything that led up to this death."
Mayor Matt Tuerk, on Friday night's police-involved shooting

Amanda Babacz works at a restaurant on nearby Hamilton Street. She didn’t witness the shooting or its aftermath but she said she feels safe in the neighborhood.

“I wouldn’t say it’s out of the ordinary for something like this to happen in any city,” she said Saturday morning. “But at the same time I feel pretty safe most of the time. I walk to my car at night by myself. I have a little pepper spray but at end of day what’s that really going to do?

“I feel like this is a really safe place to work,” she said. “Sometimes bad things happen and that can happen anywhere.”

Candles at police-involved shooting in Allentown
Samara Ahmed
Someone placed candles on the sidewalk near where Friday night's police-involved shooting occurred, on Maple Street, near Eighth Street. Police say they shot and killed a man after he pulled a gun on them and fired during a chase.

Tuerk said the incident is another example of how gun violence pervades society.

“The individual had a gun and the individual lost his life and it goes back to guns,” he said. “A gun played a role in this death. And a gun played a role in everything that led up to this death.

“We have to figure this gun thing out. We need support from our community and our legislators to put an end to gun violence. It's not something we can solve alone.

“We can't make our community safer when guns are out there the way they are,” Tuerk said. “And that's true in every part of the Lehigh Valley. That's true in the suburbs of Easton, it's true in Walnutport and it's true in Saucon Valley."