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NEWARK, N.J. -- Five drive-by shootings in quick succession in New Jersey's largest city Friday left two people dead and two others wounded and led to a police chase during which the suspects got away, authorities said.
According to police, the first reported shooting occurred at a housing complex at 2:13 p.m., although no one was hit. About 20 minutes later, a 21-year-old man was fatally shot nearby; 15 minutes after that, a 27-year-old man was shot in the elbow elsewhere.
A 24-year-old woman was shot and killed on another street 5 minutes later, and a 16-year-old boy nearby was shot in the torso just after 3 p.m.
Police gave chase to a white Infiniti SUV before losing it on Route 78 in northern New Jersey, Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said. Investigators recovered .40-caliber casings from the scene, and at least one video camera at one of the scenes captured still photos of the suspect vehicle, he said.
Two other people were shot and wounded in separate incidents later Friday, but McCarthy said he didn't think the incidents were related to the drive-bys.
McCarthy said the investigation was in its early stages, but that police think the drive-by shootings were carried out by the same person or people.
Police have not identified the victims. They said several were being treated at Newark's University hospital.
"This is not Newark," Mayor Cory A. Booker said at a news conference. "We are a city of peace and a city of strength."
Shocked residents expressed disbelief at Friday's outburst of violence.
"The streets are out of control," said former City Councilman Charles Bell, who once represented the Central Ward, where several of the shootings occurred. "It's a mix of guns and the tough economy. When the country sneezes, we catch hell in our community. For those living paycheck to paycheck, now it's dog-eat-dog."
Newark has earned a violent reputation, with the execution of three college-bound friends behind a school 15 months ago drawing national attention.
The city registered 106 homicides in 2007, leading the Newark Teachers Union to sponsor several billboards imploring: "HELP WANTED: Stop The Killings In Newark Now!"
However, with 45 murders as of Oct. 5, the 2008 homicide rate is on pace to near the city's 10-year low of 59 homicides, recorded in 2000.
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