Among the more than 100 mourners who lit candles and set aloft green and white balloons in the 2100 block of North Fourth Street, one hoped in vain that somehow he could see his older brother again.

Tyyon Bates, who celebrated his 14th birthday Monday, was wanting to see his brother Tyree, but Tyree, who would have turned 15 next month, had been fatally shot on the block just before midnight Monday. As Tuesday evening's vigil was concluding, Tyyon pulled family friend Shawn Banks aside.

" 'I know my brother's going to come back. Is this like a dream?' " he said, according to Banks.

Tyyon Bates, brother of slain 14-year-old Tyree Bates, at Tuesday’s vigil.
Tyyon Bates, brother of slain 14-year-old Tyree Bates, at Tuesday’s vigil.

Banks, 48, who has mentored many youths in the neighborhood, including the Bates brothers — and has known more than a few who have fallen victim to street violence — said Tyyon's words hit him hard.

"I had to hug him. It brought tears to my eyes," Banks said Wednesday. "I didn't want to say anything to take his dream away from him, but I told him I would be here for him in reality."

But reality can be harsh.

"He just kept looking at the bloodstains [on the sidewalk] and I said, 'Don't look at that,' " Banks said.

Wednesday afternoon, Philadelphia police said two gunmen wanted in the street attack, which also left three boys and a 24-year-old man with gunshot wounds, were still being sought.

Capt. John Ryan of the Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit  has said that the two gunmen "were clearly acting in concert," firing at least 21 bullets while standing on opposite sides of Fourth. The four young victims — Bates, another 14-year-old, a 15-year-old, and an 11-year-old — may have been the gunmen's targets, and the adult is believed to not have been, Ryan said.

The motive for the attack is not clear, he said, although he suspects it grew from a neighborhood dispute.

Eric Reid, 16, was with the victims when the gunfire erupted.

"We're laughing and playing around in front of the steps," Reid said. "We started hearing popping sounds" and thought they were fireworks.

Reid said he looked north toward the sounds and saw two people, one on the sidewalk and one in the street, firing in his direction. His friends started running.

"I turned around and my friend [Tyree] was on the ground with a bullet in his head," Reid said.

Banks, an entertainment producer who also runs a mentoring program called Philly-Wood, said he is working on bringing mentors from other cities to North Philadelphia to talk to young people about avoiding the perils of street life. He's hoping the event will take place in a week or so.

Violence like the gunfire that took Tyree Bates' life, he said, "trickles from city to city, from the jails to the streets."

Staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.