Sunday almost looked like Christmas on Marie Buck's steps in South Philly.

Relatives unloaded aluminum pans heavy with food, and someone carried a bottle of red wine up the steps, past the animatronic Santa and Mrs. Claus dolls that swayed in her window. Friends parked outside her store, Marie's Grocery at Sixth and Titan Streets, and made the sign of the cross after placing pink and red poinsettias by the door.

Nearly everyone was crying or looked cried out, though, still in disbelief that anyone could shoot and kill Buck, who, at 81, was remembered as the "pinnacle" of the neighborhood.

"She was the kindest person anyone knew. She would have gave anything to anyone," said Millie Cantor, wiping tears from her face after placing a poinsettia at a growing memorial. "She will be sorely, sorely missed."

The Philadelphia Police Department's Homicide Division said there was no new information on the Christmas Eve shooting inside Buck's beloved store.

Investigators were still looking for witnesses or video surveillance that captured images of the man, reportedly dressed in black and wearing a hood, who fired shots at Buck while she stood by the checkout counter around 9 a.m. Saturday.

Investigators also are searching for a motive, as nothing was reported stolen from the store, which Buck and her husband, Michael, founded 44 years ago, although she ran it alone.

The neighborhood was full of speculation Sunday, with people suggesting Buck was killed as part of some gang initiation.

"It definitely wasn't a robbery. It was some kind of personal thing. He came in and shot her and left," said a man who declined to be identified because he lives so close to the crime scene.

The neighbor lives between the grocery and Buck's home on Sixth Street and said he was up on Saturday morning when he heard the gunshots.

"I thought it was construction. It sounded like hammering on the wall, and then it stopped," he said.

Asked whether there were any witnesses, Officer Christine O'Brien, a Philadelphia Police spokeswoman, said she had not seen a police report mention of any witnesses.

On Saturday night Buck's daughter, Maria Buck, told 6ABC-TV that she believed her mother was "targeted."

Others said it could have been random violence.

"We live in a sick society," said George Allen, 58. "She was one of the good ones."

Buck's relatives could barely speak before emotion got to them.

"She was an angel. The whole street would tell you angel, one of the nicest women around," said a woman who brought out a picture of Marie and Michael Buck from the home.

Another man, who also declined to give his name, said Buck was "more loved than anyone."

"I really don't know anyone, anywhere who would say a bad thing about her," the man said before entering a rear door at the store.

Customers who signed a memorial and dropped off candles and flowers said Buck would often extend credit to needy people or just give items away. A statue of St. Jude, patron of hopeless causes, could be seen behind the counter, beside a prayer card with the image of St. Katharine Drexel.

On Saturday, family members told the Inquirer that Buck would always dress up in a Santa costume on Christmas Day. One man who entered the home with a tray of food said Sunday would be the "last Christmas."

Philadelphia police are asking anyone with information about Buck's death to call 215-686-TIPS (8477) or text PPDTIP (773847).

215-854-5916

@jasonnark