Cops lock up one, hunt for another in shooting of 11-year-old

Posted: April 14, 2014

MARCELLUS TEMPLE'S kid brother got his butt handed to him in a fistfight on the hardscrabble streets of North Philly last Sunday.

After the fight, Temple's little brother went home to lick his wounds and figure out his next move.

Revenge. The 16-year-old needed revenge. He turned to Temple, 25, for help.

Cops say the two brothers then armed themselves with two handguns and returned to Gratz and Oxford streets, the site of the lopsided fistfight, and started blasting away.

Kashie Crawford, an 11-year-old boy who was playing basketball nearby and had nothing to do with the dispute, took a bullet to the hip and was critically injured.

"He's getting better, but it's a slow process," Tyeesha Callie said yesterday from her son's room at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. Crawford was awake yesterday and talking with his family for the first time since he was shot, his mom said.

"It's all just pain for him, but he's still in good spirits," she said. Doctors have told her that her son will likely stay in their care for another month as he heals from the bullet that tore through his hip before becoming lodged in his stomach.

Investigators developed enough information to arrest the 16-year-old who shot at Crawford at the alleged shooter's house at 19th Street and Susquehanna Avenue shortly after 6 a.m. yesterday, said Capt. Frank Banford, commander of Central Detectives.

An arrest warrant was also issued for Temple, whose whereabouts are unknown.

"In my opinion, they had no regard for human life whatsoever," Banford said. "They didn't care who they struck, who they murdered."

Back at the scene of the shooting yesterday, neighborhood residents and community leaders echoed that message.

"People need to be empowered to let people know they can't come in our neighborhood and randomly shoot guns," Denise Ripley, a local block captain, said.

"This affects all of us. We're all connected, we're all in this battle together."

Last Sunday, Ripley was walking to meet a friend who lives on Oxford Street when the sound of gunfire sent her scrambling for cover.

The next day, she frantically called local politicians, including state Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, and pleaded with them to take action.

"I wanted them to be aware, because we have to do something," Ripley said. "We can't be hostages in our own community."

Thomas heeded her call and organized a rally yesterday afternoon at the corner of 18th and Oxford streets, during which he pushed for a "call to action."

"We need to increase our expression of outrage at this level of violence," Thomas said. "These young people believe we're afraid, that we won't come out, won't speak out.

"As long as they think we're afraid, they'll keep doing it."

Thomas, who grew up in North Philadelphia himself, said the area's problems stem from a large concentration of youth living there and a lack of outlets for them to let off some steam.

"You might have 100 or so kids right here on Gratz Street, but no community centers around here, no rec centers, no comprehensive program to redirect their behavior and understanding."

He believes it's the responsibility of the people who know those streets, and the kids on them, the best to bring about change.

"The question of whether or not kids live or die rests with us," he said. "You should not need the death of a child or a call to action to care about your community."

Banford said Temple's younger brother, whose name was not released, will likely be processed as an adult when he goes to court to face charges that include aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and firearms violations.

The teen has a prior arrest for assault.

According to court records, Temple has prior arrests on charges that included aggravated assault, terroristic threats and firearms offenses.

He's only been found guilty, however, of marijuana possession and disorderly conduct, the records show.

Banford said ballistic evidence indicated that Temple and his brother were the only people who fired shots at Gratz and Oxford streets. Shell casings from a .40-caliber handgun and a .45-caliber handgun were found at the scene.

Investigators initially had a tough time getting witnesses and neighbors to talk. Banford praised Detectives Michael Rocks and James Callahan for doggedly pursuing the case and piecing together enough information to identify Temple and his brother.

Tipsters can contact Central Detectives at 215-686-3093 or -3094.


On Twitter: @dgambacorta

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