Mullica Township does not often have to deal with tragedies, but the quiet, rural section of Atlantic County experienced two incidents last week.
Township police said Victor Martinez, 42, was shot in the head Saturday night at his home on the 4000 block of East Adams Circle. He is listed in critical condition at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
The shooting came two days after longtime township resident John Perona, 66, of the Elwood section, died Thursday night in a car accident at Reading and Frazier avenues in the Devonshire section of the township.
Detective Chris Silva said police are still investigating Saturday’s shooting and have not released a possible motive for the crime.
It was the second major shooting in the township in the past year.
On Feb. 6, 2012, John Kingsbury, 77, was found dead in his home after being shot twice the previous day. The incident, which is still under investigation, was the first homicide in the township since 1999.
Silva said it is very unusual for these types of incidents to happen in Mullica, which has a population of about 6,000, according to the 2010 census.
“It’s not something we deal with every day,” he said. “It’s usually quiet.”
Martinez had lived at the home sporadically for a few years, said next-door neighbor Bill Hirn, who was shocked by the news.
Hirn, 64, who has lived at his home in the Wharton Park development for 40 years, said Martinez was always helping his neighbors with landscaping, bringing in their groceries or anything else they needed.
“He’s always treated me like gold,” Hirn said. “He helped anybody do anything, anywhere. He’d tell me, ‘You ever need help with anything, I’ll help you. I’ll give you a hand.’”
Hirn said he was home during the shooting and said he heard at least a few shots from the back of the property. He said he could see bullet holes through the screens of two windows. The house did not show any other exterior damage Monday.
Resident Christine Woods, who lives a few houses away from Martinez, said she moved her family to the block more than two years ago from Philadelphia. She said she moved out of the city so things would be safer for her three children, and didn’t think a shooting would take place in this community.
“I moved here to give a better place for my kids,” she said. “I have three children. I can’t believe this happened here.”
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