LANCASTER – The Lancaster smoke shop, where a 23-year-old woman was shot and killed last month, was the site of an apparent drive-by shooting late Thursday night.
The incident was reported around 11:20 p.m. Thursday, and it occurred at Smoke Shack #2, located at 137 East Avenue J in Lancaster, according to Lancaster Station Watch Sgt. Theresa Dawson.
Dawson had little details on the shooting because the report had not been written as of Friday morning. However, she said the incident appears to have been a drive-by, with the shooter escaping in a dark colored vehicle. No injuries were reported, she said.
Smoke Shack #2 owner Mike Bittar said he was inside his store with a friend at the time of the shooting.
“I was sitting behind my desk, and my friend was sitting on the other side,” Bittar said. “I’m playing music, and out of nowhere I hear a loud boom.”
Bittar said he first thought the noise was something falling to the ground, but then he went outside and saw that his front window had been shattered. A single bullet tore through a soft drink cooler inside the store, Bittar said.
“The bullet went through the cooler and it struck one of the Diet Pepsi cans,” Bittar said. “I found the bullet and gave it to the sheriff’s department.”
He said deputies told him the bullet came from a 9 mm handgun. A woman outside the store at the time of the shooting said she saw someone speed away in a black or dark blue vehicle, Bittar said.
He said he had no idea why anyone would want to shoot at the store. Asked if he now feared for his life, Bittar said, “I’m Arab, nothing scares me in this world.”
He said he was more upset that it would cost him $500 to $600 to replace the shattered window.
This is the second shooting at the Smoke Shack #2 in less than a month. On Sunday, Jan. 27, 23-year-old Reyna Araceli Gutierrez was shot to death inside the store.
Gutierrez had been in a back room cleaning, around 4 p.m., when 20-year-old Samy Ali Mahmoud came into the room and began handling the store owner’s shotgun, sheriff’s officials said. Mahmoud told deputies the shotgun went off by accident and shot Gutierrez in the chest, but authorities did not buy his story.
Three days after the shooting, Mahmoud was charged with murder. He has not yet entered a plea in the case, and remains jailed on $2 million bail. Read more here.
Anyone with information on Thursday’s drive-by shooting at the Smoke Shack #2 is urged to contact the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station at 661-948-8466. If you would like to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.