Police seek shooter in fatal street brawl

Amanda Martinez , 20, was killed by a stray bullet on Somerset Street.
Amanda Martinez , 20, was killed by a stray bullet on Somerset Street.
Posted: April 12, 2013

Amanda Martinez was standing on a girlfriend's stoop in Kensington on Tuesday afternoon when the fighting started on Somerset Street.

Martinez was on Water Street, a narrow one-way that runs into Somerset.

She walked toward the commotion.

"Leave it alone," a friend told her. "Don't go over there."

But Martinez wanted to take a look.

There were about 20 to 30 people fighting on Somerset, police said, a melee that began between two women, then escalated to include men.

According to witnesses and police, a man in the brawl fired a gun in the air, then another man fired into the crowd.

One of the bullets struck Martinez in the chest. She fell in the street near a garage with a roll-down gate. She would have turned 21 today. She had planned on going dancing for her birthday, her family said.

Three men who were not involved in the fight were also wounded in the shooting, police said. The men, who are 18, 21, and 35, are in stable condition.

"All of them were innocent bystanders," said Capt. James Clark of the Homicide Unit on Wednesday during a news conference at police headquarters.

Police believe there may have been as many as 100 people on Somerset, either fighting or watching.

But by Wednesday afternoon, no one had told police the name of a shooter, or even what the fight was over.

"This is an issue where we just need someone to call us," Clark said. "We just need them to call and give us a name and let us go from there."

Clark described the shooter as a short, light-complected male.

By Wednesday afternoon, a mural for Martinez had sprung up on Somerset Street.

Mourners had left teddy bears and burning candles in front of the garage gates and someone had pinned a photo of Martinez to a Winnie the Pooh doll. Others had spray-painted notes on the gates. One woman walked past the mural with a fresh black eye.

On Water Street, Martinez's cousin, Ivan, and his girlfriend, Denise, said Martinez, who lived in Feltonville with her mother, had only recently started hanging out on Somerset Street to see a man she was dating.

"She had a big heart," Ivan said.

"She was amazing," Denise said. "She loved to dance."

She was excited about her birthday, she said.

Tipsters should call the homicide unit at 215-686-3334.

Contact Mike Newall

at 215-854-2759 or mnewall@phillynews.com.