Witness to Fairhill road-rage killing: 'I remember everything'

Posted: July 01, 2014

IRIS MONTANEZ hasn't slept since Friday.

The image of Antonio Pedraza, her next-door neighbor and good friend, being shot to death at point-blank range just in front of her doorstep keeps playing over and over again in her mind.

"The guy had no reason" to shoot him, Montanez, 41, cried yesterday afternoon at her home on 5th Street near Cambria. "I remember everything. Two days, I don't sleep or nothing, because I've got everything in my head."

In Spanglish and with translation help from her 10-year-old daughter, who also witnessed part of Pedraza's brutal slaying Friday night, Montanez recounted the harrowing ordeal that unfolded on the busy Fairhill block, leaving the 32-year-old man dead on the sidewalk:

Pedraza had been out to see the new "Transformers" movie with an ex-girlfriend earlier in the evening, Montanez said. After the pair returned to his apartment on the block, they began arguing loudly outside just before 9 p.m., she said, adding that it appeared he had been drinking.

"I heard the argument and went to the window," Montanez said.

In the next moments she watched her friend violently lose his life at the hands of a stranger.

Montanez said a raging Pedraza threw a case of Pepsi cans at his girlfriend, causing her to retreat, and then for some reason stood in the right lane on 5th Street, blocking traffic. A green minivan carrying four men and a woman stopped in front of Pedraza and was rear-ended by a car behind it, she said.

One man got out of the minivan, Montanez said, and began arguing with Pedraza after the fender-bender. The man then revealed a gun in his waistband, Montanez said, and then quickly pulled the firearm and fired a single shot into the air before pumping two bullets into Pedraza's torso at point-blank range, she said.

"He never touched the guy," Montanez said of Pedraza.

Wounded, Pedraza managed to stumble to the sidewalk, where he collapsed and died just in front of Montanez's rowhouse.

"When he got down to the floor, I was screaming, 'Oh my god, Tony, Tony!' I was screaming, 'Somebody killed him!' " Montanez recounted tearfully.

As candles, flowers and a stuffed raccoon with condolences scrawled in permanent ink marked the concrete where Pedraza died, Montanez yesterday remembered him as a hardworking man who held jobs at a neighborhood bakery and in housekeeping at a suburban hotel. He had just celebrated his birthday last Monday, she said.

She said Pedraza, who has a young son, would often walk his pit bulls in the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning before work, and again at night.

It's unclear what happened to the car that Montanez said rear-ended the van, but police found the van a short time afterward, unoccupied, about two blocks away on Indiana Avenue near Fairhill Street.

Police last night said they had made no arrests in Pedraza's slaying.

"It's hard," Montanez said. "He was close to me. Every day, he came and talked to me. He was a good man."

On Twitter: @morganzalot

Blog: PhillyConfidential.com

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