Raphael Glee, 17

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.

Raphael Glee

The cake was covered with vanilla icing and blue letters that, along with traditional birthday greetings, spelled out "We'll Miss You" along the bottom edge.

Raphael's friends and relatives left behind candles, stuffed animals, scrawled messages of affection - and a sliver of the lemon-flavored confection on a plate for the boy they called "Ralph" or "Nu-Nu."

He wanted so badly to turn 18, say his friends, that it's all he talked about throughout August, until he was shot on the 22d. He died the next day.

"He just wanted to be grown," says his cousin Diamond Glee. He'd promised five female cousins that he'd take them to his senior prom. "I'm almost a man!" he kept reminding his Aunt Yvonne Tribble.

Raphael was shot on the 1600 block of North 25th Street, his old neighborhood. His mother, Chelena Glee Hammond, had moved with her only son to Olney, which she thought was safer.

The afternoon he was shot, he was with a cousin. Although police attribute the homicide to a feud between two groups of youths and found a gun in Raphael's waistband as he lay dying, they also cite a strong possibility that the bullet was meant for someone else. A 21-year-old Brewerytown man has been charged.

Tribble, who remembers her nephew as so stylish that he might have become a fashion designer and so affectionate that he'd stop to hug and kiss you in the street, doesn't believe that Raphael was the intended victim.

"Raphael wasn't a 'street' guy," Tribble says. "We have several of them in the family, and he wasn't one of them.

"I truly believe with all my heart that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Contact staff photographer April Saul at 215-854-2872 or asaul@phillynews.com.

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