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Gunfire, even arson in towing turf war

<p>What began as a shooting on Monday involving two rival tow truck drivers escalated into something out of a mob movie early yesterday.</p>

What began as a shooting on Monday involving two rival tow truck drivers escalated into something out of a mob movie early yesterday.


Police were first called to J & Sons Auto Collision in Hunting Park around 1:15 a.m. for a report of 13 cars on fire. Fire officials later declared the incident an arson.


Shortly after that, police went to Mystical Towing for shots fired at the business on North Second Street.


Police believe yesterday’s incidents were related to Monday’s shooting when a driver from Mystical was allegedly shot in the thigh by a driver from J & Sons following a dispute over a car. Jose LaTorre, 40, of the 5700 block of Vandike Street, is suspected in the first shooting, but no suspects have been identified in the apparent retaliation.


As expected, both companies denied their involvement.


“We’re family people,” said a man who identified himself as a family member at J & Sons. “We’re not the type to run around with guns. ... There is no retaliation. We’ll let the law handle that.”


John Campbell, owner of Mystical, said “No, we didn’t” set the fire.


The two companies have a history dating back to last year when there was a similar dispute over who would tow a vehicle, according to those involved. Campbell said two cars were burned on his sidewalk following that incident, but the issue had been resolved.


“After that incident, it was deaded,” he said.