Neighbors want more security after Piazza at Schmidt's shooting

Police early Monday investigate fatal shooting outside PYT bar and restaurant in Northern Liberties. JOSEPH KACZMAREK/ FOR THE DAILY NEWS
Police early Monday investigate fatal shooting outside PYT bar and restaurant in Northern Liberties. JOSEPH KACZMAREK/ FOR THE DAILY NEWS
Posted: June 12, 2012

IN THE AFTERMATH of Monday morning's deadly shooting at the Piazza at Schmidts, the surrounding Northern Liberties neighborhood was reeling — and working on plans to prevent violence in and around the complex.

Matt Ruben, president of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, said his organization was contacted in the hours after the early-morning homicide by more concerned residents than is typical during an entire week.

"I've actually been struck by how calm and thoughtful the neighbors' questions and comments and suggestions have been overall," Ruben said. "The main discussion, I think, has been about increased security."

Police said an argument between two groups of customers at PYT, a burger joint and bar situated on the eastern edge of the Piazza's 80,000-square-foot courtyard near Hancock Street, broke out about midnight and escalated into gunfire.

"The shooter gets up, pulls a gun and just starts shooting," Homicide Capt. James Clark said later Monday, adding that the nature of the argument remained under investigation. "Right now, as far as we know, [the shooter and the victim] did not know each other."

The victim, later identified as Maurice Kimble, of Upper Darby, collapsed onto the pavement along the courtyard's edge and was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital. He was pronounced dead about 2 1/2 hours later.

Clark said police were zeroing in on a person of interest and expecting to make an arrest soon.

The slaying is the third that has marred Bart Blatstein's mixed-use apartment-and-retail complex, which opened at the site of the former Schmidt's brewery in May 2009. A month after the complex opened, drug dealers Rian Thal, 34, and Timothy Gilmore, 40, were fatally shot in a corridor inside one of the apartment buildings.

According to crime maps on the Police Department's website, six robberies and two assaults with deadly weapons have occurred since January within about a block's radius of the Piazza.

For one of the complex's residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Monday's shooting was one more reason to move out.

"I heard the shots and a scream. I called 9-1-1 as I ran outside, thinking someone needed help. I could see from the window by my elevator someone was hurt," the resident said, recounting the moments after the shooting. "I've been trying to get out [of the complex] since March."

Ruben said the neighbors' association is planning to meet soon for community members and management of both the Piazza and PYT to discuss measures to increase security.

"This is very upsetting but the community has bounced back before, and it'll bounce back again," Ruben said. "We're going to keep living our lives and doing the best we can to keep this the place that we all love so much." n

Contact Morgan Zalot at 215-854-5928 or zalotm@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @morganzalot. Read her blog PhillyConfidential.com.

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