Firefighter, son charged with beating man in NE Philly

As dusk fell across Northeast Philadelphia on April 8, Mark Wallace unwittingly made a grave decision.
The 55-year-old walked across Knights Road near Fairdale Road, and briefly crossed paths with a car driven by an off-duty firefighter named Gerard Shaffer, police said.
Shaffer yelled at Wallace for walking in front of his car; Wallace yelled back. It was a pointless encounter that could have ended there.
But then Shaffer, 47, jumped out of his car and began pounding Wallace with his fists, police said.
The veteran firefighter was soon joined by his 21-year-old son, Gerard, who was also in the car and eagerly landed blows on Wallace, according to police.
When the savage beating was over, Wallace was left with severe head injuries that doctors said would likely prove to be fatal.
The Shaffers fled the scene that night, but they didn’t elude investigators for long. Father and son were both arrested on Monday, said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.
They were charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and related offenses.
Vanore said that if Wallace, of Patrician Drive near Kirby Drive, dies, the Shaffers could face murder charges.
He noted that numerous witnesses assisted police during the investigation into the brutal beating.
“It’s a sad, sad thing that happened,” said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
“It’s very shocking to us. We don’t expect to see things like this,” he said. “Most of our firefighers are law-abiding citizens who help people.”
The older Shaffer, of Farmdale Road near Fairdale, had been a firefighter for the last 23 years. Most recently, he worked at Ladder 34 on Bustleton Avenue near Bowler Street, Ayers said.
The commissioner added that Shaffer has been suspended with the intent to dismiss.
Wallace’s sister, Nancy Kolenkiewicz, could not be reached for comment tonight.
Recently, she told NBC 10 that her brother’s death was “imminent. I mean, they said there is no coming back from such severe brain swelling.”