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1 dead, 17 injured after car drives into crowd at Pennsylvania fundraiser; driver suspected in fatal attack after crash

The fundraiser was being held to support the families of the 10 people who died in a house fire in Nescopeck earlier this month.

A man drove through a crowd gathered for a fundraising event Saturday, killing one person and injuring 17, before fatally attacking a woman in a neighboring borough, Pennsylvania authorities said.

The suspect, identified as Adrian Oswaldo Sura Reyes, 24, was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Doug Brewer on two open counts of criminal homicide, Pennsylvania State Police said in a news release early Sunday.

Reyes, who was from Nescopeck, a small township in Pennsylvania's eastern Luzerne County, “was denied bail and remanded to the Columbia County Correctional Facility,” the release said.

No details were released about the victims.

At an earlier news conference on Saturday evening, state trooper Anthony Petroski said that a vehicle drove through a “community event” in Berwick around 6:15 p.m.

After the crash, the suspect was accused of fatally assaulting a woman in Nescopeck, where he was taken into custody by municipal police, Petroski said.

Police are investigating whether the suspect intentionally drove into the crowd, and have not said whether there was a connection between the suspect and the woman who was killed in Nescopeck.

NBC affiliate WBRE of Wilkes-Barre reported the crowds had gathered at a Berwick benefit event to raise funds for the families of the three children and seven adults who died in an early morning house fire on Aug. 5 in Nescopeck.

Officials have not released the identities of the two people who were killed. Columbia County coroner Jeremy Reese said the woman in the Berwick crash was 50 years old, and from Wilkes-Barre. She was declared dead at the scene.

The 17 injured people were taken to four area hospitals, Petroski said. Their conditions were not immediately available from law enforcement Saturday night.

Mike McMullen, a spokesperson for health care provider Geisinger, said it had been treating 15 patients from the Berwick accident at three of its locations. Five are in critical condition, and three are in fair condition. Seven were treated and released, he said.

Saturday's benefit was being held at the Intoxicology Department bar and restaurant. People had also gathered in an adjacent outdoor space, where various vendors and a basket raffle had been set up under tents. The event also included a water balloon fight and a dunk tank, according to the bar's social media.

“We can never replace these people that were lost, but we can do our best” to support family, bar owner Lauren Hess told NBC affiliate WBRE of Wilkes-Barre at the benefit Saturday.

On Saturday night, the bar posted on Facebook that it would be closed until further notice.

“Today was an absolute tragedy,” the post said. “Please respect our privacy while we grieve and try to process the events that occurred.”

Funerals were set to begin Friday for some of the victims who died in the Aug. 5 blaze, with additional services scheduled for Sunday and Monday.

The deceased included seven adults ranging in age from 19 to 79, two boys ages 5 and 6, and a 7-year-old girl, according to Pennsylvania State Police. All 10 died of smoke inhalation, the coroner determined. 

Pennsylvania State Police initially called the case a “complex criminal investigation.” Investigations into the fire and its cause, which has not been determined, are ongoing.

The fire broke out before 3 a.m and first responders reported flames that repelled their efforts to get inside the two-story home and make rescues, authorities said later that day.

The home was burned to the ground, and remains were discovered as authorities went through the rubble.

Asked if the suspect in Saturday’s incidents was also a possible suspect in the Nescopeck fire, Petroski said, “At this time he is not a suspect in that incident.”

Nescopeck is a borough of more than 1,400 people, located about 48 miles southwest of Scranton. Berwick, in Columbia County, has a population of about 10,300 and sits across the Susquehanna River from Nescopeck.