Sunday, July 16, 2006

Inquirer: Any Day, You Can Have A Killing

Philadelphia Inquirer discusses why every day can be fatal.

When it comes to homicide in Philadelphia this year, one day of the week is pretty much like any other.

There's no weekend blip.

That is, perhaps, the most remarkable fact to be gleaned from a review of the city's 185 slayings in the first half of 2006. That review shows that, as was the case last year, the typical victim of homicide in Philadelphia is a young black male. And he has been typically killed by a handgun.

"To people who aren't legitimately employed, one night of the week isn't much different from another," Professor Roger Lane said. "I think what we're seeing in Philadelphia reflects the high level of poverty and unemployment among younger, black males who, in large part, are both the perpetrators and the victims of these crimes."

Northeast Times: “There’s not much you can do with a hole in your chest."

Northeast Times relates robbery homicide.

Castor Gardens resident Jeff Campbell recently moved to the 7000 block of Rutland St. The former New Yorker was just getting to know his neighbors.

On Monday night, his small talk turned into whispers of comfort as one of those new acquaintances lay dying in his arms from gunshot wounds.

"I kept him conscious," Campbell said. "He kept going in and out. There’s not much you can do with a hole in your chest."

The neighbor, identified as David Auguayo, 27, was shot to death shortly before midnight during a robbery outside his home. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:10 a.m.

A second victim, who has yet to be identified, was shot in the legs and groin. He was taken to Albert Einstein Hospital and is listed in critical condition, police said.

Witnesses said three black males approached the victims while they were talking on Auguayo’s steps and demanded money, according to Lt. Philip Riehl, of the homicide unit. When Auguayo tried to flee inside his home, a suspect began pistol-whipping him and then fired shots. The suspects fled on foot.

Riehl believes that two handguns were used in the incident, but detectives are unsure if they were automatics or revolvers. No other information was available on the suspects.

Auguayo was one of three people shot to death in the city Monday night. Rutland Street was quiet late Tuesday morning as Campbell and another neighbor, Joseph Rivera, talked outside.

"This is how it is most normal days," Rivera said of the silent street. "There’s no violence on the block. Everybody works."

Rivera said his 2-year-old daughter often played with Auguayo’s young son.

"I was just talking to this guy at six o’clock last night," Rivera said while holding his other young daughter. "I wish I had been outside when it happened. I would have helped."

The violent evening came two weeks after the police department started a new anti-crime unit and less than a week after state Sen. Vince Fumo (D-1st dist.) announced the creation of a task force targeting illegal gun sales.

Raj Demands More Prisons

From the Northeast Times:

Raj Bhakta, the Republican candidate in the 13th Congressional District, is calling for more prisons and stricter sentences as ways to combat violent crimes.

Bhakta credits the police department for making arrests but blames lenient judges and prison overcrowding for crimes committed by violent offenders. He wonders why "Mayor Street and his cronies" don’t address the matter.

The candidate cited the case of Solomon Montgomery, whom Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes found not guilty of a shooting in 2001. Montgomery is now charged with killing 15th Police District community relations officer Gary Skerski in May.

Bhakta, who is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz, said crime is causing a plummeting quality of life in the Northeast. He’s preparing "Save the Northeast" rallies.

The Republican said Pennsylvania is a big state with lots of room for prisons. "Find a field somewhere in Pennsylvania, build a prison and fill it with criminals, and when that gets filled, find another field," he said. "We cannot allow criminals to run our streets any longer, and in Congress I will chase down the funding for it."