Gwendolyn Toler stood Wednesday near the South Philadelphia basketball court where a day earlier her 18-year-old grandson was shot in the hip and a 14-year-old boy was shot in the head by a masked gunman.
“You just brazenly get out of a car and just start shooting," Toler said of the unidentified gunman. "You better turn yourself in.”
She said her grandson, Joseph Lighty, and his friend were playing basketball on the court on the 1200 block of Carpenter Street about 4:30 p.m. when the shots rang out.
“They don’t have guns, they have basketballs and bikes,” she said, with a tear in her eye.
Philadelphia Police Capt. James Kearney of the South Detective Division said Wednesday that the younger boy was in critical condition at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Lighty was released from Jefferson on Tuesday night, his family said. He lives with his grandmother and other relatives near the basketball court. Toler said he is scared and didn’t want to talk to a reporter.
Kearney said surveillance video showed that a gunman wearing a black hoodie and a black face mask got out of the backseat of a white Nissan Versa, went to the basketball court, and began firing. He then returned to the car, which left the scene.
The victims appeared to have been targeted, Kearney said, but the motive for the shootings remains unclear. He said police are investigating whether the same Nissan Versa was involved in other recent shootings and asked witnesses to come forward.
Toler and her daughter, Lakeisha Shaw, who is Lighty’s aunt, recalled hearing gunshots while at home Tuesday afternoon.
“We heard the gunshots in the house. And we ran out,” said Toler. As a Democratic committeeperson, she said, she had fought to get the basketball court built. “It’s a brand-new court and none of this ever happened until now,” she said.
After hearing the shots, Shaw said, she ran toward the court, and her nephew ran to her and collapsed. He was shot by a bullet that entered his left hip and went through his leg, she said. “He has a big hole in his leg,” she said.
Shaw said she saw the younger teen lying on the basketball court. Police put him in a car to take him to the hospital.
“None of these boys is involved in anything” bad, she said, adding that her nephew is a senior in high school and works as a line cook at a Center City restaurant.
Family members of the younger teen could not be reached Wednesday.
Tuesday’s shooting followed another on Sunday evening, when two teenage boys were shot on a basketball court in the 9100 block of Academy Road in Northeast Philadelphia. A 16-year-old was struck in the left arm and right leg and was taken to Nazareth Hospital, and a 13-year-old was shot once in the right shoulder and taken to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, both in stable condition.
In September, at the Roberto Clemente Playground basketball court in Spring Garden, five young men were shot — including two ages 18 and 21, who died. The three other victims, ages 18 and 19, were in stable or critical condition.
No arrests have been made in any of those shootings, which remain under investigation, police said Wednesday.