'I SAW HIM FIRE': Out on a story, our reporter is suddenly ducking bullets

Posted: September 29, 2011

IN THE hundreds of shootings I've covered as a reporter in Philadelphia, either out on the street in the aftermath of bullets or later in courtroom testimony, I never would have guessed I would one day witness a shooting myself.

But yesterday at 3:52 p.m., on Ann Street near Weikel, in Port Richmond, I saw a young man, dressed all in black, raise his arm and fire three louder-than-imaginable shots down Ann Street toward Tulip with a black handgun.

A crowd of about 20 at Ann and Weikel quickly fled. I also ran. Seconds later, more shots rang out.

In the end, three people were wounded, including a woman who suffered a graze wound to the head after she fled into her home. Bullets smashed through her front screen-door window.

I didn't see these people get shot. Nor did I see who fired the second round of shots.

The shootings stemmed from a brewing fight moments earlier, and, according to a police source, stemmed from an altercation between two factions over drugs the night before.

I had been in the neighborhood about a half-hour before the shooting, interviewing someone in an unrelated story involving another dispute nearby earlier this month. That's when I heard about a fight on Ann and walked over to where it meets Janney Street. There were crowds of people on both sides of Ann. About eight city police officers stood on the other side of Janney, observing the crowds.

I was standing near the young man in black - who later fired the first shots. He muttered something to the people behind him about how he should go get something around the corner and come back. I don't remember what word he said, but I knew it referred to a gun.

He then went to the other side of the street, in front of the Janney St. Grocery, talking to other people there. I asked a woman behind me what the fight was about. She said simply, "One block don't like another block."

Police officers then dispersed the crowd in front of the store. With the men and women walking away, I thought that all would be OK. So did the police, who left.

I returned to Weikel to continue my earlier interview. About 10 minutes later, someone yelled that the fight was starting again. I went toward Ann and witnessed about 20 people encircling a man who was slam-punching another man on the ground.

Then people started running, and a man told me that I'd better get out of there, that someone could start shooting. I started walking away with him on Weikel. That's when I heard a shot, looked back and saw the man in black firing down Ann. He fired three times in all.

I then ran into a house with the man I was walking with. That's when the other shots rang out.

In the chaotic aftermath, with neighbors screaming everywhere, one man screamed out, "This is f---ing ridiculous!"

Later, Lt. Harold Lloyd, of the East Detectives' Special Investigations Unit, told me that there were at least two shooters, including the man in black. They were arrested in the area after the shooting. Also, a woman was arrested; police found three firearms in her handbag and believe that the shooters gave them to her to hide.

Lloyd said that the female victim, 28, who was shot in the head, was not an intended target. She was upgraded from critical to stable condition at Temple University Hospital.

The two other people wounded were a man, about 48, and another man, 19. They were each shot in a leg, on Ann Street. The older man is not believed to have been a target; Lloyd said he did not know if the younger man was.

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