On Tuesday night, Sherita Hamilton was watching seven cousins, ages 2 to 11, at one of the Aberdeen Street homes when she was killed by a bullet not meant for her. A cousin of Hamilton's, who has not been identified, was running from two armed men shortly after 9 when Hamilton apparently heard a commotion and saw him outside, police said.
When she opened the door to let him in, police said, she was shot in the head.
Hamilton was pronounced dead at the scene. Capt. James Clark said police are talking to several witnesses, including the man who was fleeing the gunmen. No arrests have been made.
The man targeted in the shooting was not injured, nor were the children in the house.
Investigators did not comment on a possible motive, but police are considering the possibility that the killing is related to a shooting that took place Sunday on the same block.
That shooting also involved one of Hamilton's relatives, Hamilton's aunt said. Around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, 26-year-old Donnie Ayers was hit several times. He was in critical condition Wednesday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. No arrests have been made, and police did not comment on the motive.
Hamilton was babysitting Tuesday while other family members visited Ayers in the hospital, said Hamilton's aunt.
Hamilton was born in Rocky Mount, N.C., and moved to Philadelphia at a young age after her mother died. She first lived with her grandparents and at 13 began living with Adrienne Hamilton.
She graduated from Edward W. Bok Technical High School, her aunt said, and was attending the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology for nursing. Hamilton was so eager to begin studying nursing that she decided to start classes in July rather than wait for the fall semester, her aunt said.
On Wednesday, Hamilton's aunt choked back tears as she described her niece as a soft-spoken, respectful woman who enjoyed self-reflection through writing poetry, reading, and going to church.
"Everybody on that block knows Sherita," Adrienne Hamilton said. "She was the voice of reason, and she didn't even live on that block."
Anyone with information is asked to call the homicide unit at 215-686-3334.
Contact Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or firstname.lastname@example.org