'A nightmare with no end': Hundreds mourn 3 killed by carjacked SUV

State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas (center) prays with family members during a vigil at Germantown and Allegheny Avenues, scene of the crash.
State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas (center) prays with family members during a vigil at Germantown and Allegheny Avenues, scene of the crash. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 31, 2014

Hundreds of people gathered at a rally and vigil Tuesday evening on the grassy lot where three children were killed by a carjacked SUV that veered out of control at Germantown and Allegheny Avenues last week.

Cassandra Alexander, a relative who spoke on behalf of the family, described their anguish and bewilderment.

"Our hearts are broken. We can't believe this is our new reality: a nightmare with no end," she told the crowd.

Killed in the crash were 15-year-old Keiearra Williams, 10-year-old Thomas Joseph Reed, and 7-year-old Terrence Moore.

Their mother, Keisha Williams, 34, was still in critical condition in a medically induced coma at Temple University Hospital, said another relative, Antonio Moore, who attended the rally.

The children and their mother were at the North Philadelphia corner selling fruit to raise money for a neighborhood playground.

The 45-year-old woman whose SUV was stolen during the carjacking was also injured in the crash, as was another woman selling fruit, Thelma Brown, 69.

Alexander said a funeral for the children had been set for 11 a.m. Monday, and she thanked the North Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church, at 16th and Oxford Streets. "Pray for our family," she said, mentioning the children's two surviving sisters.

Moore thanked former 76ers star Charles Barkley for offering to pay for the funeral.

Jonathan Rosa, 19, and Cornelius Crawford, 24, were charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, and related offenses. They were arraigned and were being held without bail Tuesday.

Police said Rosa and Crawford approached the 45-year-old woman, a real estate agent, Friday morning near Sixth and Cumberland Streets, forced their way into her Toyota 4Runner by implying they had a weapon, and assaulted her sexually.

The men drove the 4Runner north at high speeds and lost control at Germantown and Allegheny, police said. The SUV jumped the curb and careered into the fruit stand.

Police launched a manhunt to find the two, receiving help from witnesses who flooded the department with tips, looking to help. Neighbors and local businesses sent in video footage of the area, and police said several witnesses were able to identify Rosa and Crawford once they were taken into custody.

Rosa turned himself in Sunday night. Crawford was found hiding in a shed behind a building on North Sixth Street the same night and taken into custody. Both gave statements to homicide detectives, police said.

The crowd assembled for Tuesday's rally spilled into the streets, which were shut down by police.

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison, Mayor Nutter's chief of staff, thanked the community for providing crucial leads for homicide investigators.

"You helped solve this case," Gillison said. "Thank you for what you did. You stood up and did the right thing."

Anthony Murphy, executive director of Town Watch Integrated Services, said residents who had information did not abide by the "don't snitch" street code.

"This is our community, and we are responsible for what takes place," he said.

He added, "Working with the Police Department makes a difference. You proved that."

Bilal Qayyum, president of the Father's Day Rally Committee, and State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas (D., Phila.) said donations for the family can be sent to Education Works, 3149 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia 19133.

Education Works, a nonprofit, is across the street from where the crash occurred, and employees ran to the aid of the victims.


bmoran@phillynews.com

215-854-5983 @RobertMoran215

Inquirer staff writers Mike Newall and Aubrey Whelan contributed to this article.

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