Retracing steps, they honor slain man

Family and friends of Mike Hagan holding a vigil Saturday night at Fourth and Lombard, wherehe was fatally shot. "We'll never have closure," said his mother.
Family and friends of Mike Hagan holding a vigil Saturday night at Fourth and Lombard, wherehe was fatally shot. "We'll never have closure," said his mother. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)

Dozens gathered at Fourth and Lombard, where Mike Hagan was shot in July. His parents want answers, and justice.

Posted: October 15, 2012

In the months since Mike Hagan was killed in Old City in July, his parents have received hundreds of cards from people who knew their son from work, school, or his soccer league - wrenching reminders of his impact on the community around him.

Hagan, 32, an information-technology consultant who grew up in Pennsauken, loved being a part of Philadelphia, said his mother, Carol Hagan. He attended neighborhood meetings in Fishtown, where he was remodeling a home, shopped locally, and enjoyed nothing more than exploring the city with his many friends.

In the early hours of July 1, after spending a night on the Delaware River waterfront with friends, Hagan was found on the ground at the corner of Fourth and Lombard, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest. No arrests have been made, and police have few leads.

Carol and Michael Hagan Sr. hope a $50,000 reward for information might change that.

"We'll never have closure," said Carol Hagan, who with family and friends raised the money to bolster the city's posted $20,000 reward. "We'll live with this every day for the rest of our lives. But we want justice, and we want the person who did this to be caught so that nobody else has to go through this."

On Saturday evening, dozens of friends and family gathered to walk part of the route Hagan apparently took on the last night of his life.

Starting at Fifth and Market Streets, where two yellow school buses dropped off about 60 people, the solemn 20-minute procession ended on Fourth, where about 30 more people waited at the spot where Hagan was killed.

Along the way, members of the group handed out fliers, and childhood friends, including Josh Flanagan, now of the Fairmount neighborhood, remembered Hagan as "the best friend you could have."

Nick Plago, also of Fairmount, said Hagan "loved the city, loved being in the city, all the time."

Lynn McHugh, who said she has been the Hagans' neighbor for 30 years, with tears in her eyes described Hagan as a "really sweet person" who had "lots and lots of friends."

"His parents are brokenhearted, his brother and sister," McHugh said.

During the candlelight vigil on Fourth Street just north of Lombard, Hagan's father spoke "on the spot where Michael was killed 105 days ago" to the crowd that spilled into the street.

"We're here because we want justice for Michael," his father said. He urged Mayor Nutter and City Council to do more to stop gun violence.

"We have to get illegal guns off the street," he said. "We don't want this to happen to another family. This tore us up, our family, our friends."

With Saturday's procession and other efforts, Hagan's family has sought to prevent his story from fading into the background of the city's other killings. As of Saturday night there have been 268 homicides so far this year. Police said Hagan was one of 38 people to be killed in robberies this year.

Investigators have looked at surveillance from the area, and they are keeping a close eye on any other robberies in the neighborhood, said Philadelphia Detective Howard Peterman.

"We're really staying on top of it, so hopefully something breaks," Peterman said.

The Hagans held a fund-raiser at a Pennsauken bar and bowling alley in August that drew 450 attendees. In addition to boosting the reward, they have decided to start a scholarship in Hagan's name.

Hagan, his mother said, was exactly the type of person that city officials are eager to bring to Philadelphia. He took pride in remaking his home and in participating in his adopted neighborhood. For Hagan's birthday this year, she said, he wanted to go to the Pickled Heron, a French restaurant that opened this year near his house.

"Mike was just the kindest, gentlest person," Carol Hagan said. "Everybody that met him felt their lives were better for having known him. And for him to die that way was so wrong."


Contact Allison Steele

at 215-854-2641 or asteele@phillynews.com.

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