Two suspects in the bloody gun battle that left a Bethlehem woman dead and five men injured on Dec. 2 in the city's Southside were arraigned today (Dec. 10) before District Magistrate Nancy Matos Gonzalez.
Bail was denied for Rene Figueroa, 32, of 936 W. Gordon St., Allentown, who faces charges of one count of homicide, two counts of attempted criminal homicide and a slew of other charges in connection to the gun fight outside the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society.
Bail was set at $2.5 million for Javier Rivera-Alvarado, 38, of 782 Mohawk St., Allentown, who is charged with three counts of attempted criminal homicide and other charges.
The suspects were in wheelchairs as they were transported from St. Luke's University Hospital in Fountain Hill to the office of Matos Gonzalez for the arraignment. Afterwards, they were committed to Northampton County Prison.
According to Bethlehem Police, Rene Figueroa is accused of killing 23-year-old Yolanda Morales when she put herself between him and his apparent intended target, her boyfriend Angel Figueroa, who is no relation to Rene. Bethlehem Police say Rivera-Alvarado fired bullets that wounded Angel Figueroa’s brother, Orialis; his nephew, Luis Rivera, and Morales.
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said at a news conference Friday that the two suspects were put in the hospital intensive care unit by Orialis Figueroa who may have saved several lives.
It was an argument between Orialis Figueroa and another man inside the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society moments earlier that erupted into the chaotic and deadly gunfight, according to the arrest affidavits.
The argument was with a man who was with a group hanging out with Rivera-Alvarado, though the affidavit does not make clear whether that was Rene Figueroa or someone else.
But, the warrants say, the man with whom Orialis Figueroa was arguing made a simple and direct threat during the confrontation: “Te voy a disparar,” which means, “I am going to shoot you.”
Orialis Figueroa told police he believed the threat.
According to the arrest affidavits:
- After the argument, Orialis Figueroa walked out of the club and waited by the front door for his girlfriend to walk out.
- He then realized that the club would soon close and a group, including the man who threatened him, would be walking out together. He then went to his girlfriend’s car to retrieve a baseball bat for protection.
- As he walked back toward the club, he was confronted by Rivera-Alvarado, who pointed a gun at his head and said: “What’s up now mother (expletive)? Put your (expletive) down.
- He then shot Orialis Figueroa several times in the legs.
- Alvarado-Rivera then turned his attention to Angel Figueroa and Morales, firing one shot that apparently hit the young woman, though not fatally. Then he fired a shot that hit Luis Rivera in the knee.
- It was at this point that Orialis Figueroa said he approached Alvarado-Rivera from behind and hit him with the baseball bat and then took his gun, which he later used to shoot Rene Figueroa.
“We believe his actions were justified,” Morganelli said. “He was not only defending himself, but defending others.
“Some people may question the fact that Orialis Figueroa went to go get a baseball bat, but a baseball bat isn’t a gun.”