56 vehicles vandalized in area of S. Phila. slaying

Jaine Kromchad, with son Nicholas, is one of many residents around Second and Wolf that had their cars vandalized overnight. Her Ford Explorer was damaged by acid on the passenger side. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)

Grief-stricken residents in Whitman Park were already coping with the loss of a slain neighbor when many of them awoke yesterday, the day of Anthony DeMarco's funeral, to find that their cars had been vandalized.

Fifty-six vehicles on Jackson and Wolf streets between 2nd and 3rd in the South Philadelphia neighborhood were doused with a chemical, possibly acetone or paint thinner, police said.

Police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said the vandalism occurred at 2:50 a.m. and appeared to be a random act not related to Friday's homicide. But some neighbors said it all seemed too coincidental.

"The neighborhood was grieving," said a 38-year-old Jackson Street resident who declined to give her name. "Who comes into a neighborhood and does something like this?"

The woman added that she'll have to pay about $500 to repair her Kia Sedona van.

A number of surveillance videos show a small, dark, older-model four-door vehicle with a gray or white hood cruising down Jackson and Wolf streets.

Sheryl, who would not give her last name and who lives on Jackson Street near 3rd, walked out to her red Lexus at 6:30 a.m. and saw the paint bubbling. Scraps of chipped paint lay beside her car in the street.

Two white men are seen in the video clutching some sort of squirt bottle, spraying the cars, Evers said. The driver was wearing a gray-and-white hooded sweatshirt.

Meanwhile, since Friday, a police van has been stationed on Jackson Street near 3rd, just feet away from where DeMarco, 20, was shot and killed.

Neighbors were outraged that the officer on duty didn't stop the vandals.

"They're always sleeping in there," said Crystal Bolland, 19. "I walked by on my way home and I saw the officer sleeping. If that's there, none of this should have happened."

Evers said the officer was not asleep at the time of the incident.

Police believe that the vandals may be from the area. The two men face felony charges, Evers said.

Not too far from one of the many damaged vehicles, a utility pole on the corner of Phillip and Jackson streets was covered with a memorial to DeMarco, with Phillies caps and flowers. "No matter who he's with, he always put a smile on their face," said Mark High, 22, who lives two doors down from where DeMarco was gunned down.

"He was the one who stuck out in the crowd."