City records year’s 200th homicide

Posted: June 28, 2007

A little after 11 a.m. yesterday, Ronald McCorkle walked the 125 steps from his house on Tioga Avenue to the corner of North Seventh Street in North Philadelphia and turned south to become No. 200.

Just yards from the corner, three gunshots rang out and McCorkle, 22, who was known as "Sheed" in the Franklinville neighborhood, fell mortally wounded with a gunshot wound to the back.

The gunman responsible for the city's 200th homicide then ran away through a nearby excuse for a playground, leaving behind a bicycle that police hope will provide clues to his identity.

The motive remained a mystery.

Residents were clearly upset by the death of McCorkle, whom they described as a quiet, nice guy getting back on his feet after doing recent jail time.

They also were angry about what they considered a slow response by police to the shooting. They said the first officers did not appear for more than 15 minutes after McCorkle fell.

"They took their sweet time to get here," Luis Ortiz said. "The kid was still alive when the police got here."

Police said their records showed that no more than four minutes elapsed between the time the first 911 call came in, at 11:18 a.m., and the time when officers reported that they had arrived at the scene.

Ortiz said he had seen McCorkle only moments before he was slain.

"He said, 'Hi,' to me as he walked toward the corner," Ortiz said.

Miguel Arroyo, who lives on the corner, said he was the first to reach the wounded man.

"He was still breathing, but hard," he said.

There was little blood at the scene, an indication that McCorkle did not live long. But he was not pronounced dead until 11:44 a.m. at Temple University Hospital.

The first officers on the scene radioed for backup for "crowd control." There also was an element of confusion when a call came in at the same time that a woman was being threatened by her boyfriend with a gun on the 700 block of Russell Street, in the area to which the gunman had fled. The call proved to be unconnected.

Demonstrating a knowledge familiar to residents of some city neighborhoods, one young man said the three shots were so loud they probably came from a .38-caliber revolver.

That seemed to be supported in part when crime-scene investigators arrived and found no shell casings, the standard residue of shootings involving semiautomatic handguns.

Court records showed that an arrest warrant had been issued June 8 for McCorkle after he failed to appear for sentencing on a pair of drug-possession and drug-dealing charges.

Except for the yellow crime-scene tape, the neighborhood soon fell back into its daily routine two hours after the shooting.

A block from where McCorkle fell, a boy ran through the spray of an opened fire hydrant on Tioga at Sixth Street to cool off on a hot day.

Contact staff writer Joseph Gambardello at 215-854-2153 or

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