Natalie LePera’s North Philadelphia neighborhood seemed quiet as she walked up to her third-floor apartment early Sunday morning.
She’d received an email alert from Temple University about a shooting that had been reported hours earlier on the 1700 block of West Diamond, where she’s lived since August, but she didn’t see any hint of trouble — no crime scene tape, empty shell casings, or idling police cruisers.
LePera, a 22-year-old Temple student, dozed off for a while, and then awoke to another email, this one from a university counselor who asked whether she was OK or in need of support services. A quick Google search revealed that Daniel Duignam, a student at Temple’s Fox School of Business, had been killed in an apartment two floors below LePera’s.
Police found Duignam, 21, shot in the chest, groin and forearm shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday. The Tatamy, Northampton County, native was pronounced dead at the scene.
Homicide Capt. Jack Ryan said there was no sign of forced entry in Duignam’s first-floor apartment, which is next to a fenced-off yard where little kids played basketball and danced to a thumping radio on Sunday afternoon.
“There was definitely signs of a struggle,” Ryan said. “The house was ransacked.”
He declined to speculate on a possible motive. Investigators have no suspects, but the university tried to send a reassuring message to its campus community.
“While there are many questions yet to be answered, [police] do not believe that this was a random act,” Temple University president Richard Englert said in the statement. “Temple University will enhance patrols in the areas surrounding campus as the investigation moves forward.”
LePera and her boyfriend, Bobby Giacobbe, said they didn’t know much about Duignam; their exchanges were mostly limited to occasional greetings as they made their way in and out of the apartment building.
“The scariest part was, we came home and didn’t realize anything had happened,” Giacobbe said. Later, the couple noticed a splotch of blood on Duignam’s door handle.
Duignam’s LinkedIn account describes him as a risk management and insurance student. According to his Facebook page, he went to Nazareth Area High School.
“On behalf of everyone at Temple, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Daniel’s family and friends at this tragic time,” Englert said. “They are in the thoughts and prayers of us all.”
A handful of Temple students who were stopped near Duignam’s apartment on Sunday said they didn’t know the third-year student, but tributes piled up on social media.
“Absolutely heartbroken to hear of Danny Duignam’s passing. He was a fine young man from a fantastic family,” Ken Termini wrote on Facebook. “I had the pleasure of coaching him while I was at Nazareth. You couldn’t find a nicer or more polite kid. So sad and senseless. …”
It is with great sadness and utter disbelief having lost a member of the Blue Eagle Basketball family at such a young age. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Duignam family.#Degs #Alwayssmiling#blueeagleforever
Coach Arndt & Staff pic.twitter.com/7fYI3cimHj
— Nazareth Basketball (@NAZhoops) May 6, 2018
“[S]uch an innocent life was lost,” Amanda Sroka, a Northampton Community College student, wrote in another Facebook post.
His family could not be reached for comment.
The Morning Call of Allentown reported that Duignam’s family is well-known in Tatamy, where his grandfather Luke Duignam was mayor.
In a post on the Tatamy Borough’s Facebook page, current Mayor Christopher Moren said, ““I am beyond heartbroken to let you know that one of our own has fallen to a senseless tragedy,” and asked residents to keep the Duignam family in their thoughts as they deal with “the unimaginable.”
Temple’s chapter of the NAACP, meanwhile, decried the gun violence that claimed Duignam’s life. “It is tragic that we have lost yet another life here at Temple University,” the group said in a statement. “Someone so young did not deserve to lose their life in that manner of violence.”
NAACP officials encouraged anyone with information about the crime to contact authorities.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the Temple Student Government, which released a statement that read in part: “We have endured multiple tragedies in just one academic year, and we have seen firsthand the horrific effects of gun violence.”
Jenna Burleigh, a 22-year-old commuter student from Lower Salford Township, Montgomery County, was murdered in late August by Joshua Hupperterz, 29, in an apartment not far from Temple’s campus. The two had met at a nearby bar. Hupperterz was arrested — after he took Burleigh’s body 140 miles to his grandmother’s house in Wayne County.
Giacobbe and LePera were left unsettled by Duignam’s slaying, the second instance of gun violence to hit their neighborhood in less than a month. Two people were shot to death and a third was wounded at 18th and Diamond Streets when a gunman reportedly opened fire on a crowd at a house party on April 21.
LePera said she wants to move away from the area. “I’m over it,” she said. “I’m very over it.”