Chronicling the tragedy
With staccato-like regularity, guns are killing children. Epidemic. Public health crisis. Tragedy. By whatever name, these deaths bring profound loss to families and communities. This occasional series by Inquirer staff photographer April Saul attempts to capture the look, the sound, and the feel of this loss.
FAMILY, FRIENDS LEFT BEHIND
What, then for those who loved them?
Long after rain washes the blood from the sidewalks of the city, after kids are placed in their coffins, and after T-shirts dedicated to the memory of "Mook" and "Goub" and "Gussie" are tucked away - what, then, for those who loved them?
THE 2006 TOLL: 22 children killed by guns in Philadelphia, two more than last year. All but two were from 14 to 17 years old. The others were 3 and 5. All but three were black; all but one were male.
SHOT DEC. 6, 2006, IN NORTH PHILADELPHIA
SHOT NOV. 30, 2006, IN NICETOWN | DIED DEC. 12
Kisha Bivines hated the makeshift memorial to her son Ivan. So she hauled away the stuffed animals. Then, as a passerby gave her "the nastiest look ever," she spray-painted over her son's name and wrote in its place: "Peace."
SHOT NOV. 22, 2006, IN NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA
Eric Hayes could make a joke out of anything. Not so long ago, his mother remembers Eric - clad in shorts, a sleeveless "beater" shirt, and slippers - teasing her. "He said, 'If I die, this is what I want to go in,' " Barbara Clowden explains. He also knew she'd never let that happen. "Not with what he had on!"
SHOT OCT. 15, 2006, IN FELTONVILLE
Ty-Ty died looking down a gun barrel. He was laid to rest holding a lollipop. Police said that on Oct. 15, about 1 p.m., the child found a registered .45-caliber pistol and shot himself in the face. The gun and the Raymond Street rowhouse where it happened belonged to Dave Walter, boyfriend of Ty-Ty's mother, Lawanda Bailey, who lives across the street. Both adults and Ty's brother Dejour, 9, were in the house.
SHOT SEPT. 1, 2006, WILLISTOWN, CHESTER COUNTY
This is supposed to be the good life, not the badlands. The sprawling manse where Scott Sheridan was shot during an end-of-summer, underage drinking party sits off Pony Trail, a bucolic country lane near the border of Chester and Delaware Counties.
SHOT AUG. 22, 2006, NORTH PHILADELPHIA
They forgot to put candles on Raphael Glee's cake, which makes sense because he couldn't have blown them out. The Olney High senior was shot in the head two days before his 18th birthday - on the same square of North Philadelphia sidewalk where dozens of friends and relatives now sang "Happy Birthday" in his memory.
SHOT JULY 27, 2006, EAST GERMANTOWN
Six-year-old Jasir Lightfoot's nightmare makes perfect, sickening sense. On July 27, his cousin Terrence "Terre" Adams walked to a store in East Germantown and never came back. The Parkway High senior was killed at a playground, say police, by a bullet that may have been meant for someone else.
SHOT MAY 11, 2006, CAMDEN
SHOT MAY 6, 2006, NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA
SHOT APRIL 30, 2006, SOUTH PHILADELPHIA
Folks come to the Chinese takeout at 19th and Gerritt for more than the food, which is said to be good. Blunts - cigars that can be filled with marijuana - are sold at the bulletproof window along with egg rolls. Open until 3 a.m., it's a natural hangout. Last Sunday, it may also have become a place that young killers could boast of their deeds on the white walls in a cryptic missive - the hieroglyphics of death.
SHOT APRIL 23, 2006, SOUTH PHILADELPHIA
Omar ("Lil O") Rodriguez was too scared to go to school. The walk from his eighth-grade classes at Roberto Clemente Middle School to his Kensington rowhouse - along a volatile route where kids from Clemente, CEP Allegheny, Edison, and Olney High Schools often collide - had become a bruising gauntlet. He'd been beaten twice.
DIED APRIL 16, 2006, SHOT MARCH 23 , FAIRMOUNT
When Robert Pierson was 12, he went to Cooperstown to play his beloved baseball a stone's throw from the Hall of Fame. That wasn't so unusual, except that he pitched 10 innings by himself, and then tried - unsuccessfully - to convince Fairmount Sports Association coach Joe Dunn to let him play in a second game 90 minutes later.
SHOT APRIL 15, 2006, SOUTH PHILADELPHIA
It was as much a cry to the heavens as a question from a mother to her child's assailant: "What are you shooting my son for?' " That was all Angel Anderson could manage as the boy - no more than 16, she thought - fired three bullets into her son Christopher, 17, in front of their South Philadelphia home on April 11.
SHOT APRIL 13, 2006, NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA
On April 13, Vincent Thomas, 17, was shot and killed during an early-morning gun battle on Ferndale Street in Northeast Philadelphia. He was the fifth city child to die from gunfire this year. A few days later, the body of Raheed Muhfooth, 15, was discovered in an outdoor stairwell at a middle school in West Philadelphia.
SHOT MARCH 14, 2006, IN POINT BREEZE
Before his 14-year-old life was cut short by an unknown assailant with a sawed-off shotgun, Tariq "Boozie" Blue was a sharp-dressed eighth grader who had amassed roughly 60 pairs of blue jeans, all folded neatly on plastic hangers in the closet of his South Philadelphia bedroom.
SHOT FEB. 20, 2006, IN RHAWNHURST
SHOT JAN. 14, 2006, IN SOUTH PHILADELPHIA
It's as if the minute Darnell Winn, 15, was shot and killed Saturday night, the streets started screaming his name: "Mook." The nickname is spray-painted on abandoned houses, freshly tattooed on friends' forearms, scrawled on teddy bears on the sidewalk at 20th and Mifflin Streets in South Philadelphia where he was killed.