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Shooting at Pat’s Steaks, allegedly over football, leaves one man dead

The popular cheesesteak shop turned into a crime scene overnight after the fatal shooting.

Pat's Steaks was the scene of an early-morning shooting that left one dead.
Pat's Steaks was the scene of an early-morning shooting that left one dead.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

One man is dead after an overnight shooting at the popular Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philadelphia.

Police said the shooting happened around 1 a.m. Thursday after two men got into an argument while waiting in line for food at Ninth and Wharton Streets. According to Pat’s general manager Tom Francano, the two men were fighting in part about football — one was an Eagles fan, and one was a New York fan.

“They were arguing and it turned into a fight,” Francano said. “One guy grabbed the other guy and got him in a grip, and the other guy pulled out a gun and shot him in the torso. It was one shot. The cops came right away.”

The shooter fled but was later arrested outside Independence Hall in Center City. The 23-year-old victim was rushed to Jefferson Hospital, where he died a short time later, police said.

Police have not released any further information about the victim or the suspect.

» READ MORE: Two teens were killed and another was wounded in West Philly, police say, continuing the city’s surge in violence

Pat’s closed for about four hours while police investigated, but by Thursday morning, business had returned to normal at the iconic eatery. Customers were lining up for steak sandwiches, and a pasta sauce truck showed up to make a delivery.

“My employees are pretty shaken up,” Pat’s owner Frank Olivieri said. “I don’t understand what goes through people’s minds. ... It’s a fricking tragedy when anyone dies senselessly.”

Francano, who has worked there for 42 years, the last 30 as general manager, was still grappling with the violent incident.

“It’s not good. It’s not good for us, it’s not good for the city,” he said from inside the walk-up restaurant. “It may turn people away, you know?”

This was the first shooting on Pat’s property, he said.

“The city is pretty violent, anymore. We need to do something about it. Maybe too many guns,” Francano said. “Sad, you know? It’s happening all over.”

Frank Pat Olivieri, 83, nephew of Pat’s founder Pat Olivieri and long retired from working at the business, stopped by around noon with his wife, Ritamarie, 81. The pair sat at a table in the quickly filling patio dining area.

”I think with this pandemic, everybody is just going crazy,” Ritamarie said. “People just don’t care about each other anymore. They have no regard for humanity, they have no regard for life.”

Blair Seaman, 19, and her sister Kylie Seaman, 16, arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday morning from their home in Syracuse, N.Y., and were eating at Pat’s for the first time. They were drawn by the restaurant’s reputation and had not heard about the shooting.

”I think that’s crazy,” said Kylie, a high school student. “It’s incredible how tensions can get so high over something that, in the long run, is mild.”

Another overnight shooting, on the 5600 block of Warrington Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia, left one man dead, according to police. Chief Inspector Scott Small told reporters that shooting suspect is also in custody.

» READ MORE: Philly just hit 300 killings this year, as its record pace continues

“It was unusually quiet for a July nice summer evening, but all of a sudden we saw some gun violence,” Small said.

At least 314 people have been slain in Philadelphia this year, according to police statistics — a 34% increase compared with the same date last year, and more than were killed in all of 2016. More than 1,200 people have been killed or wounded in shootings citywide this year.

Another shooting happened around 6 a.m. Thursday on the 2600 block of West Silver Street in Strawberry Mansion. According to police, a 40-year-old man was shot multiple times in the upper body and was transported to Temple University Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. No arrests have been made in that shooting.

On average, 10 people have been shot a day in Philadelphia in July through Tuesday, according to an Inquirer analysis of city crime data. Twenty-five people were shot on Monday and Tuesday alone, and two teenagers were fatally shot and killed in West Philadelphia on Wednesday.

The Pat’s shooting is not the first time violence and fandom have mixed in Philadelphia.

Two years ago, Sixers forward Mike Scott got into a scuffle with Eagles fans tailgating outside Lincoln Financial Field while wearing a Washington Football Team jersey. In 2015, an Eagles fan threw several punches at a Giants fan in a booze-fueled fight in a SEPTA station after a game.

In 1983, Zema Williams — better know as “Chief Zee,” an unofficial Washington mascot — suffered a broken leg and was left in a wheelchair for a year after Eagles fans assaulted him following a loss at Veterans Stadium. Williams, who died in 2016, sued the Veterans Stadium security firms and ultimately won a $14,250 judgment.