Man who escaped Castro's Cuba is killed in Feltonville home invasion

Posted: January 22, 2013

IT WAS common for Pablo Valdez to open his door to people, whether it was for a neighbor seeking advice or a relative who needed assistance.

That's the way a 30-year-old stepson remembered Valdez on Sunday, two days after the 56-year-old Cuban immigrant was gunned down in his Feltonville home during a home invasion.

"Out of the whole family, he was the oldest man. His sisters and everybody used to look to him" for counsel, recalled the stepson, who declined to give his name for fear of retaliation because no arrests had been made in Valdez's slaying.

"His sisters are like, 'Who do I go to now?' " he said.

Police responded to Valdez's home, on Wyoming Avenue near 2nd Street, shortly after 8:30 p.m. Friday for a report of a shooting and home invasion. When officers arrived, they found Valdez lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head.

He was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead Saturday night, police said.

A witness who was in the house at the time of the shooting told police that when Valdez answered a knock on the door, he was confronted by two men wearing dark clothing and masks, armed with a revolver. The men asked Valdez where the money was, then shot him in the head, the witness told police.

The witness, who was not harmed, reported that the men continued to search the house, but eventually fled in an unknown direction.

It was unclear Sunday whether anything was taken. Police did not release a motive.

According to his stepson, Valdez came to the United States in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter opened the country to thousands of Cuban refugees. Valdez was considered an elder who counseled many Cuban émigrés in Philadelphia, and did some home repairs, his stepson said.

His stepson said Valdez lived in the house alone after his mother died a few years ago.

"He took care of everybody. He was the only father I've known," he said, noting that he and Valdez had fallen out of contact in recent years after Valdez began seeing another woman.

Neighbor Greg Fisher said he had known Valdez for 16 years.

"He was a good dude. He never bothered nobody," said Fisher. "He always spoke to us. We never had a problem."

Online court records show that Valdez was arrested in November 2006 on drug-possession charges, and was sentenced in June 2008 to between 11 and 23 months in prison and three years' probation.

On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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