Her home shot up, witness' mother offered relocation aid

Anthony Shelley, 19 , shows scars from the January shooting on a playground. Shots were fired at his family's house.
Anthony Shelley, 19 , shows scars from the January shooting on a playground. Shots were fired at his family's house.
Posted: August 04, 2011

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office offered relocation services Wednesday to a Wynnefield family whose home was riddled with gunfire in an apparent case of witness intimidation.

Sharletta Ambey's rowhouse was hit by almost 20 bullets one night in late July while she was inside with her fiancé, three youngest children, and toddler grandson. The Inquirer on Wednesday profiled Ambey and her family.

Police suspect the attack was meant to intimidate her son Anthony Shelley, 19, who is scheduled to be called to testify next month against a man who allegedly shot him in the face in January on a playground.

Shelley was not home when his mother's house was fired upon, and no one was injured. Police have not made an arrest in the July 20 attack.

On Wednesday, the District Attorney's Office offered Ambey assistance through the Pennsylvania witness relocation program, said Leland Kent, executive director of victim, witness, and neighborhood services.

The package would provide Ambey's family with 120 days of temporary housing and other moving costs, including first and last months' rent and storage costs. As part of the program, Ambey and her family would not be able to return to her neighborhood.

Ambey turned down the help for the time being.

"That house is everything she's earned in life," said her fiancé, Ben Ryan. "It's hard for her to turn her back on it."

Ambey, 39, raised seven children in her home of 16 years. She is nearly done paying off the mortgage.

A year ago, she began working as a gardener at the Horticulture Center in West Philadelphia. Her friends and family live nearby. Ryan, a plumber, also works in the neighborhood.

Ambey said she was depressed Wednesday over her situation.

"It just doesn't work for us," she said. "We will do our best to hang in there, I guess."

Shelley has been living with out-of-state relatives since being shot.

"I'm scared for my family," he said Wednesday. "I'm sorry for the danger I put them in. They don't deserve this."

Mikal Powell-Miller, 21, a repeat offender with a criminal history of witness intimidation, has been in custody since the January shooting.

Shelley said he was not going to testify.

"If I testify and put him away for good, what does that even do?" he said. "He's in jail now, and somebody still shot at my family."

Ambey told her son not to come back to the neighborhood.

"I told him, 'Stay where you are. Don't come back this way,' " she said. She said she was thinking of getting a gun permit.

Ambey can still decide to accept assistance, Kent said.

"She's not ready right now," he said. "But we will continue to follow up with her."

Contact staff writer Mike Newall at 215-854-2759, mnewall@phillynews.com, or @MikeNewall on Twitter.


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