This post has been updated.
A family in Fairhill was forced to live a nightmare Wednesday night after several masked gunmen burst into their rowhouse on 9th Street just north of Somerset and murdered the mother's 36-year-old son while his brother, sister and 6-year-old niece sat helpless, bound and gagged by the thugs.
Police said the initial call for the home-invasion came shortly before 11 p.m., and when they arrived at the scene, they found the 36-year-old man, identified Thursday afternoon as Roshan Sullivan, in a back bedroom bleeding from at least one gunshot wound to the back of the head. Sullivan was pronounced dead at 11:03 p.m., Chief Inspector Scott Small said at the scene.
The thugs zip-tied the Sullivan’s 30-year-old sister, 6-year-old niece, 22-year-old brother and mother, who police said is in her 50s, and gagged them with duct tape, police said. The women and child were unharmed, Small said, but the brother was hit in the left side of his head and suffered a cut. He declined medical treatment.
Small said duct tape and zip ties were found both in the back bedroom where the man was murdered and in the living room. Police also found one .45-caliber shell casing in the back bedroom.
In the immediate aftermath of the crime, gut-wrenching sobs of relatives and friends who gathered at every corner and crowded front stoops filled the narrow, shadowy block, echoing off the houses as police led the traumatized surviving victims – the younger woman’s arms wrapped tightly around the child – out of the two-story brick house.
Police quickly whisked them away to be interviewed by homicide detectives, and cops believed early Thursday that they were the only witnesses.
Small said police do not believe anyone saw the thugs enter or leave the house, but the victims told police that three to five masked men had perpetrated the crime.
Young boys leaned out a second-floor window one house over from the victims’ home, curiously watching cops mill about the street below as relatives held each other tightly, tears flowing, voicing their disbelief at the scene unfolding before them.
A man who said his name was Cary and identified himself as Sullivan's cousin looked on with a crowd of about 30 people – most of whom, he said, were other family members – who gathered at 9th and Somerset early Thursday morning as police investigated.
He said Sullivan went by the nickname “Roe.”
“Right now, we’re just trying to find out what happened,” Cary said. “We’re hurting.”
The men stole money from the house, police said, but they were unsure how much.
Investigators were also still working early Thursday morning to determine whether there were any signs of forced entry and looking into the possibility that a surveillance camera mounted on the awning of a corner store captured the assailants. Police have not yet determined whether the victims knew their attackers.
“At this point, we don’t know if this was a random act or if they targeted this particular home,” Small said.
A woman who said she was the 36-year-old man’s aunt paced the corner, begging other relatives and journalists at the scene for any answers that might help make sense of the violence.
“Please tell me what happened,” she pleaded through tears.
Police remained at the scene investigating after 1:30 a.m. Thursday.