Gunfire erupts at city playground for 6th time in just over 1 month

Posted: September 12, 2012

This story was updated at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday

IN A CITY where bullets fly on a near-daily basis, some of the places that are supposed to be safe havens - playgrounds and rec centers - are becoming shooting scenes at an alarming rate.

Before dusk on Monday, gunfire erupted at a city playground for the sixth time in just over a month. Police said Kharee Tillmon, 18, was shot dead on a crowded playground at Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center, on 22nd Street near Huntingdon in North Philadelphia. He was the second teen killed at a city playground in three days.

Chief Inspector Scott Small said police were called to the playground just before 6 p.m. When they arrived, they found the victim lying on his back on the pavement, unresponsive.

Tillmon, who lives nearby on West Oakdale Street, was rushed to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 p.m. of a single gunshot wound through the heart, cops said.

Small said about 25 people were at the playground when the shooting erupted, not including the youth football team practicing on an adjacent field and people playing pickup basketball games on nearby courts. Witnesses told cops that they heard one shot, and most people who were there at the time scattered. Two witnesses were taken to speak with homicide detectives, police said.

The shooter was described as a 20-year-old man, 5 feet 7 and about 200 pounds, wearing a multicolored sweater, blue jeans and multicolored sneakers. He was last seen heading west on Huntingdon Street from 22nd on a bicycle, accompanied by another young man, also riding a bike.

As investigators scoured the cordoned-off playground for evidence, football practice carried on at the field nearby like normal.

But across from the practice, a young man who identified himself as the victim's cousin stepped up to the yellow crime-scene tape about 8 p.m. and asked a policeman on the scene, "Is he gone?"

When the cop nodded, the man dropped to the ground, crying.

On Friday night, a 17-year-old boy was shot to death at a playground in East Mount Airy.

A 15-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound at a basketball court in Tacony on Aug. 24. Ten days prior, a 37-year-old man was fatally shot on the playground at Parkside-Evans Recreation Center in West Philadelphia, and on Aug. 4, two men and a teen were wounded in a shooting on a basketball court at East Germantown's Wister Recreation Center. Two days before that, a man and a teen where shot at Penrose Playground, at 12th Street and Susquehanna Avenue.

The recreation centers did not have surveillance cameras in several of the shootings, according to police. During a City Council hearing on rec-center violence in mid-August, city officials said they planned to spend $375,000 to install surveillance cameras at 30 city recreation centers.

No arrests had been made in Monday's homicide.

Contact Morgan Zalot at or 215-854-5928. Follow her on Twitter @morganzalot. Read her blog at

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