On a Brewerytown block, disbelief over hoops star’s arrest

PALMER03
"He's not that kind of child, never been," said Jacqueline Andino, 43, who said Rysheed Jordan (inset) called her "Aunt Jackie."

He was a high-flying, quick-slashing basketball star, a blue-chip prospect once dubbed "the Prince of North Philly."

Rysheed Jordan, a 6-foot-4 point guard who in his senior year at Vaux High School in 2013 was named player of the year by both the Inquirer and the Daily News, had dreams of the NBA. And after playing two years at St. John's University in New York City, those dreams didn't seem out of reach.

But Wednesday night, Jordan, 21, was arrested near his old neighborhood after trying to run away from police, authorities said. By Thursday morning, he was charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting someone during a botched robbery outside the rec center where he grew up playing hoops.

Neighbors on the 1600 block of Dover Street, in Brewerytown, were incredulous about Jordan's charges Thursday - in disbelief that the kid they watched grow up, basketball in hand, would ever trade the game for a gun.

"He's not that kind of child, never been," said Jacqueline Andino, 43, who said Jordan called her "Aunt Jackie."

Lolo Walker, 49, who said she's Jordan's great-aunt, noted that after playing in the NBA Development League last year, Jordan was working toward a successful professional career. When asked if she thought he would get involved in a neighborhood shooting, she said simply: "For what?"

Police said Jordan - who they said also went by the first name Rasheeb - was arrested after 2 a.m. Wednesday when he ran a red light at Broad and Norris Streets. After fleeing police in a green Jaguar and then on foot, police said, Jordan was caught in a dead-end alleyway next to the 2100 block of North 15th Street, where he tried to throw away a handgun. Officers said they found the weapon loaded with five live rounds and a scratched-off serial number.

Jordan was charged with several counts of gun-related offenses. Authorities also identified him as a suspect in a robbery and shooting from last week.

In that incident, police said, two men arrived outside the Athletic Recreation Center at 1400 N. 26th St. to purchase marijuana around 4:15 p.m. Friday. After the would-be buyers got out of their car, police said, Jordan and at least one other person approached with guns and ordered them to turn over their money and phones.

Authorities did not say how many people were with Jordan or name anyone else allegedly involved in the incident.

The two alleged buyers ran back to a gold sedan, police said, causing Jordan and his group to open fire. The men managed to get into the car and drive away, but one of them was hit in the arm, police said. They later flagged down police near the 3300 block of Girard Avenue, and the 23-year-old man who was hit was taken into surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Cameron Kline, spokesman for the District Attorney's Office, said video surveillance footage from the rec center showed Jordan, after the shooting, running through an adjacent park and into the building. Kline said he did not know whether the footage showed the actual crime, but said Jordan admitted to detectives during questioning that he was on the surveillance tape.

Neighbors on Jordan's old block, congregating Thursday on the front steps of their brightly colored rowhouses, said they did not believe Jordan had participated in the shootout.

They said Jordan centered his life around basketball: shooting hoops at the rec center, or playing games with his AAU or high school teams, or even teaching kids on the block dribbling tricks on the pavement.

He won a state title at Vaux, and at St. John's averaged 12 points and 3.1 assists per game over his two years. He was the team's leading scorer during his sophomore season, but then left the program amid academic concerns and a coaching change.

Last year, Jordan played 11 games with the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League before being released. Neighbors said he was preparing to try to make an NBA roster in the fall - another reason they didn't believe he would join in the violence and crime prevalent in the area.

"I've never seen him put himself in jeopardy," said Geneva Gadson, 30, who said Jordan was good to her children, ages 14 and 7.

Andino - "Aunt Jackie" - said she might try to organize a block party to help contribute toward Jordan's $750,000 bail. The Jordan she knows - supportive during her cancer treatment, helpful in organizing neighborhood events - was too sweet, she said, to have performed his alleged deeds.

"There's just no way in the world," she said.

cpalmer@phillynews.com

215-854-2817@cs_palmer