PATERSON, NJ – Two more people were wounded in the 4th Ward early New Year's morning, making them the seventh and eighth shooting victims in that part of the city since Christmas Eve. Four of the shootings happened within a 27-hour period between late Friday night and early Sunday morning and there have been six shootings in the past six days.

In all, there have been seven 4th Ward shootings since December 24, including one in which two people were wounded.

The first shooting of 2012 happened at about 12:15 am during in the area of Highland and May streets, according to Paterson police.

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Police responding to reports of a shooting found a man who was wounded in his left thigh. Police say the victim told them that he had left a New Year's Eve party on Highland Street and was walking towards his vehicle when six men pulled up in another vehicle.

They got out and started beating the victim and during the struggle, one of the suspects pulled out a handgun and fired a shot that struck him in the leg, police said. The suspects then drove away on on Highland Street.

About half an hour later, police received another report of shots fired in the area of 10th Avenue and E.19th Street. Officers did not find a victim at the scene, but shortly afterwards, someone with a gunshot wound showed up at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center for treatment, police said. Additional details on this shooting were not available, but this story will be updated when more infomation emerges.

On arrival, officers checked the immediate area, and found no victim at the time. A short time later, the victim arrived at St. Joseph’s by private vehicle. 

Police are looking into the possibility that at least two of the previous shootings may have been committed by the same man. But most of the others do not seem connected.

At about 10:30 Friday night, a 19-year-old city resident was leaving a convenience store on Carroll Street, near Godwin Avenue, when a man dress all in black demanded his property, police said. The two then struggled and the victim was shot once in the abdomen, according Sgt. Patrick Murray, head of the Cease Fire unit. He’s in critical, but stable, condition at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.

The circumstances of that shooting closely matches one that happened about 22 hours earlier just two blocks away at 12th Avenue and Rose Parks Boulevard, when a victim leaving a bodega was robbed by a gunman also dressed in black. “We’re looking into whether there’s a connection,’’ said Murray.

At 1:25 am on New Year’s Eve, the 4th Ward endured its fifth shooting within a week. Three young men were walking along 11th Avenue near E. 16th Street, when a man appeared about a half a block in front of them, police said. Without saying anything, the gunman, who was dressed in black, started firing at the three men, grazing the forehead of a 22-year-old N. 5th Street resident and also wounding him in the ankle.

The victim’s two companions fled and authorities are trying to contact them as part of their investigation.

In the ward’s other two shootings this week, two men were wounded on Monday at 11 pm at Carroll and Fulton streets and a man was wounded at 11 pm at a Christmas Eve house party at 11th Avenue and E. 25th Street.

The Paterson Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Local 1, has cited an increase in shootings in the city as a consequence of the layoffs of 125 officers in the spring. From May through November, Paterson had 57 shooting incidents this year, up from 29 in the same months of 2010, according to fliers distributed to Paterson residents by PBA members this week.

Mayor Jeffrey Jones administration has asked the state for permission to rehire 37 cops, but the state says it won’t approve those hirings until city officials balance their 2012 budget and approve an increase in sewer fees.

Police are asking that anyone with any information pertaining to the shootings contact the Paterson Police Cease-Fire Unit at 973-321-1342. Folks can also report information anonymously by using the TIPS hotline at 973-523-TIPS.