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.
Scott, of Willistown, was the 17th child lost to gun violence in the Philadelphia area this year, but the first to fall in the suburbs.
A sidewalk memorial for the Cardinal O'Hara senior wouldn't work here: A private road leads from Pony Trail to the driveway where the party's host, Sean O'Neill, allegedly killed his classmate early on Sept. 1, playing with his father's loaded gun.
Instead of spray-painting his name on vacant buildings, Scott's friends mourn in cyberspace. From his page on the popular Web site MySpace flows a sea of tributes, with the Billy Joel song "Only the Good Die Young" for mood music. Since his death, the number of friends paying their respects here has nearly doubled, to more than 100.
Scott Sheridan lived to sing, and his friends loved to hear him break into a Josh Groban song or the score of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
"He always had a smile on his face," says Moira Crowe, 17. "He was a happy kid."
His MySpace profile calls Scott a "proud parent"; friends say he had recently learned he was going to become a father and embraced the future with enthusiasm. On the night of Scott's death, says Colin Higgins, 17, "he pulled one of the kids aside at the party and told him how happy he was about the baby."
At a memorial service, Scott's brother Brian Sheridan tells mourners, "I just wish I knew the man he was going to become."
Outside, Scott's eighth-grade teacher, Ginnie Goldovich, tries, through tears, to describe Scott's love of life. "I'm a better person," she says, "for having taught him." Nearby, Tom Rached, 18, shakes his head sadly. "He was just trying to have a good time this summer," he says. "It's summer, man."
Contact staff photographer April Saul at 215-854-2872 or firstname.lastname@example.org.