Iverson's Main Line estate is suddenly the main event

Posted: July 13, 2002

For the time being, Allen Iverson is confined to his estate on Monk Road in Gladwyne, but it is his neighbors who are being held hostage.

This tranquil Main Line neighborhood, home to blue bloods, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, and other celebrities, has been overrun with news media and basketball fans since Philadelphia police began investigating the 76ers star for allegedly forcing his way into a West Philadelphia apartment July 3. Inside that apartment, authorities maintain, Iverson threatened two men with a handgun while searching for his wife, Tawanna.

"The guy does an alleged home invasion, and it's now a neighborhood invasion," resident John Powell sighed.

Susan McKean, 56, lives two estates away from Iverson and just got out of the hospital after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. She's ready to go back.

"I've been trying to sleep for two days, but there have been helicopters circling my house and making my dogs upset," McKean said.

The congestion, albeit lighter yesterday than Thursday, may not subside until Tuesday, when Iverson - who has been with family inside the 15-room Colonial mansion - is expected to surrender to authorities on more than a dozen felony and misdemeanor charges including assault, criminal trespass and weapons offenses.

Until then, this Gladwyne community remains ground zero in a hip-hop version of the The Philadelphia Story, as paparazzi and tourists camp outside the basketball star's home waiting for him to emerge.

Although he came out briefly Wednesday, he had not been spotted since.

That did not deter Bryant Nall, 13, of South Fulton, Tenn., who yesterday posed for pictures with his cousin, Corinne Quinn, 27, of East Falls, before the mansion's black-steel gate at the front driveway.

"We're going to get to the Liberty Bell, too," Nall said.

Since Wednesday, when the media frenzy began, Lower Merion police officers have been directing traffic on the one-lane, tree-shrouded road, trying to balance freedom of the press with the rights of property owners.

Monk Road resident Jay Vederman, 35, said the police should rope off the street to keep outsiders away.

"It's a little intrusive, and I think the police should put a stop to this," he said Thursday as he and his wife, Keira, 25, strolled past reporters and fans who had just watched detectives tow Iverson's maroon Cadillac Escalade. "This street is 20 feet wide, and we got massive news vans on it. . . . I believe there's more reporters covering this than there were the gubernatorial primary."

Although the frenzy has caused some locals to scream at police and curse at the press, others have taken it in stride and used it as a way to meet each other.

"I've lived here for 20 years, and I've never met most of my neighbors," said Bruce Bruskoff, 52, shaking hands for the first time with Vederman, his neighbor of five years. "The worst part is the way people drive down the street. They're going like 50 miles per hour. Prior to this it's been real quiet."

Ironically, residents said, the cause of the commotion - Allen and Tawanna Iverson - has been one of the quietest, most gracious couples since buying their home here two years ago. The basketball star waits for the school bus with his children, says hello, and supports area youth sports teams, Powell said.

But that was then, and this is now.

"It's a spectacle; it's constant traffic day and night. Kids can't get out and play," said Tom Cerone, 29, a nearby resident. "This is all people are talking about. But, it seems like it's going to hit the fan Tuesday. Tuesday is D-Day for Allen."

On Tuesday, Iverson is expected to surrender to authorities under an agreement negotiated by his high-profile attorney, Richard A. Sprague, and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson. Gregory Iverson, Allen's uncle and his alleged accomplice in the assault, is also expected to surrender Tuesday.

Should Philadelphia police find the basketball star outside his home before then, he will be arrested, the commissioner has said.

Yesterday, neither the District Attorney's Office nor Philadelphia police publicly commented on the case, but authorities speculated that the gun he was allegedly carrying on July 3 may never be recovered.

Further, police said Iverson's Cadillac Escalade may have recently been repaired for a broken windshield and driver-side window.

Investigators have said that, after the confrontation in West Philadelphia, Iverson went to the Marriott Residence Inn in Conshohocken to inquire about his wife, who unknown to him had rented two rooms there on July 1 following a domestic dispute. A man accompanying Iverson asked security guards at the Marriott if they had seen a vehicle in the parking lot with smashed windows, police said. The guards said they had not.

Meanwhile, at least one Gladwyne resident was learning to live with the sudden congestion along Monk Road.

"We're not going to leave the 'hood because I'm recuperating from the operation," McKean said. "But I'm going to lay low, and the police told me they have to stay there to monitor the people who are monitoring Allen."

Contact Steve Esack at 610-313-8225 or esacks@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writers Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. and Robert Moran contributed to this article.

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