A 21-year-old rapper slain Sunday night in Elmwood in a mass shooting that left five others wounded may have been targeted in another shooting in Southwest Philadelphia earlier that day, police said Monday.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference at Police Headquarters, Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said investigators probing the death of Ezra Weah, 21, of Southwest Philadelphia, found his car pockmarked with bullet holes when they seized it after his death.
Ballistic evidence suggests that those shots may have been fired at 4:12 a.m. Sunday at 53rd Street and Baltimore Avenue, Smith said, although he cautioned that the investigation was ongoing.
Weah — who performed under the name BankRoll Gambino — was killed around 8 p.m. Sunday when at least two gunmen fired shots into a group of about 10 people on the 2600 block of Carroll Street, Smith said. Weah’s group had been filming a rap video, according to Smith, and five other men between 22 and 24 years old were struck by gunfire. One of them remained in critical condition Monday afternoon, Smith said.
Smith said that the shooting was likely “a continuation” of the violence earlier Sunday, but that detectives did not have much information and had made no arrests. The captain did not offer a description of any suspects, and he said investigators were still seeking video, witnesses, or other evidence.
It was the second mass shooting in six weeks in the small section of Southwest Philadelphia. On June 17, Father’s Day, six people were shot at a graduation celebration at Finnegan Playground, just a few blocks from the site of Sunday’s shooting.
On July 13, seven people were wounded in another shooting, at a playground about 5 miles away in Overbrook.
Smith said he did not believe those incidents were connected to Sunday’s shooting.
Monday morning, Carroll Street was quiet but for the hum of TV news vans, the running motor of a parked police car, and a man with a shovel digging up weeds and grass growing through cracks in the gutter.
“Seeing bodies in the front lawn is not cool,” said the man with the shovel, Ivan Escobar, 55, who described himself as the unofficial block captain. “I’m from Florida, and I was raised in Puerto Rico. You see all kinds of s—. But not like that. Hell, no.”
He thought it sounded as if the victims, whom he knew by sight but not by name, were attacked by one gunman on Sunday night. “I heard, ‘Boom, boom, boom, boom. Then, boom-boom-boom. It sounded like one gun,” Escobar said.
A woman who said the man who died was her brother stood Monday morning on the porch of a home in the 2600 block of Carroll with another woman, gazing at the street where the carnage unfolded.
“We was just sitting outside. We left and came back, and there were 50 cops outside,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “I don’t know anything about this situation. He just was a rapper, that’s all.”
As she and the other woman walked away, they began surveying the blood spots on Carroll. “Gambino’s blood’s on the street,” she said.
After the shooting stopped, Escobar said, he ran outside and called 911. “After I called, I see bodies on the steps, people running around. We put one of the guys who got shot in the head in a police car, and the other guy who got shot in the head in another car.”
He and others eventually carried the second victim shot in the head to an arriving ambulance, he said.
Police did not identify the wounded men, all of whom were taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. They listed the victims as a 22-year-old shot in the right leg and chest, another 22-year-old shot in the neck and back, a 23-year-old shot in the head, a 24-year-old man shot in the left leg, and a 22-year-old shot in a finger. Smith said police had spoken to four of the surviving victims.
Sunday’s mass shooting came just four days after City Council President Darrell L. Clarke and other elected officials called for a new state law to ban guns from city parks and recreation centers. They cited the Overbrook shooting and the earlier Elmwood shooting as evidence that such a law was needed.
In January 2018, Weah was sentenced to six to 23 months in jail and five years of reporting probation for a 2016 burglary charge. Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Mia Roberts Perez also ordered him to pay $400 in restitution. In June 2017, Weah pleaded guilty in Delaware County to fleeing police, resisting arrest, auto theft, and drug possession. He was sentenced to six to 23 months in jail and five years’ probation.
When Weah’s body was discovered, police found with it an illegally possessed handgun that had been reported stolen several years ago, Smith said.
On Instagram, well-wishers left comments on his photos, posting RIP or broken-heart emojis. His most recent photo, posted Saturday, had more than 800 comments as of Monday afternoon.