A South Philadelphia dog walker died in front of his fiancée Saturday night after he was punched by another dog walker at Gold Star Park.
Police responded to a call reporting a “person screaming” at Sixth and Wharton Streets shortly after 9 p.m. When they arrived, officers found a 38-year-old man unconscious on the sidewalk where a neighbor was trying to revive him with CPR. Medics took the victim to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:50 p.m.
Police did not release his identity.
According to police, the victim and his fiancée were walking their dog when another man came by with an unleashed animal. Neighbors said the victim asked the man to not let the animal run free. The man took offense and threw a punch, police said, the blow sending the victim staggering backward to the ground, where he hit his head.
Gold Star Park, tucked in a recently revived section of the city at Sixth and Marshall, rarely sees violence, said Michael Shannon, 57, who was strolling through the pocket park with his Jack Russell terrier on Sunday afternoon.
A bouquet of flowers had been left as a makeshift memorial near the site of the altercation.
“It’s really shaken the neighborhood," said Shannon, who runs a design firm. “It’s quite unusual. I walk through this park twice a day with my own dog, Ruthie. It’s a very friendly neighborhood.”
The park is home to a bocce league and playground, and hosts neighborly get-togethers.
“I’m afraid I’m going to learn who it was and I’ll probably know them,” Shannon said. “I’m surprised police haven’t mentioned the breed of dog he was walking. That’s primarily how we know each other.”
Police continued to speak with witnesses on Sunday afternoon and review surveillance images. They had not made an arrest.