Family, friends mourn Wissinoming auto-repair shop owner killed by stray bullet
Police said they believe Michael Gleba, an innocent bystander who was working outside his shop, was caught in a spray of gunfire related to drug activity in the neighborhood.
Vehicles slowed and stopped in front of Michael Gleba’s auto-repair shop in Wissinoming Friday, a day after the shop owner beloved by many was killed in broad daylight by a stray bullet.
Kathy Seigafuse got out of one car and placed a glass-enclosed candle next to flower bouquets on the sidewalk in front of the closed doors of Gleba’s Northeast Speedometer Service Inc. on Benner Street near Edmund.
“He was a good mechanic,” said Seigafuse, a family friend who lived nearby. “He gave people a break on their payments.”
As she was speaking, Justin Morrison walked up, heartbroken. “He was one of my closest friends,” said Morrison, 39. “This guy literally was the nicest guy. He was ready to retire. His son was going to take over his shop.”
Nearby, mourners streamed up the steps of the home where Gleba’s mother and other family members live, and where Gleba stayed at times, since he worked long hours. He also had a house in Bensalem.
Kristen Venziale, the oldest of Gleba’s five children, was too distraught to speak as she stood outside the house. Another relative cried as she remembered Gleba, 56, and said, “That was one great, great guy.”
Police on Friday continued to search for the shooter or shooters. Gleba was working outside his shop when at least one young man fired shots on Benner toward a group of young men on a corner, police said.
Police have said gunfire rang out about 3:15 p.m., when kids were walking home from the nearby Lawton School. Gleba was shot in the stomach and rushed by police to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:37 p.m.
About an hour later, Izeem Hunter, 23, was shot several times while he was in the Alixandro Mini Market at Torresdale Avenue and Anchor Street, about six blocks away in Wissinoming. Hunter, who lived a half-block away on Anchor, was pronounced dead at Jefferson Frankford 20 minutes later, police said.
Detectives were trying to determine if the shootings were related.
They were two of three homicides Thursday afternoon. About 4:50 p.m., 29-year-old Raymond Grimes of Memphis Street in Port Richmond was shot several times on the 800 block of West Somerset Street in Fairhill and later was pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital, police said.
About 4:10 p.m. Friday, police responded to another fatal shooting, this time in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment on the 3900 block of North Percy Street in Hunting Park. A 28-year-old man who was shot several times in the head and torso was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was not released.
No arrests were reported as of late Friday afternoon in any of the shootings. The homicides raised the number of slayings this year to 93. Through April 11 last year, 77 were killed, according to police statistics.
Capt. John Walker of the 15th Police District, which covers Wissinoming, said Friday that Gleba was in front of his shop “on a beautiful afternoon” when he became a victim of “senseless violence.”
He said surveillance video from the business showed three or four young men, believed to be the intended targets, on a corner of Benner and Hegerman. The shooter or shooters, also on Benner, were not captured on the video, he said. Gleba got caught in a spray of gunfire.
Based on other shootings in the neighborhood and police intelligence, Walker said, police believe the shooting was drug-related.
One of the targeted young men appeared to have been shot in his right arm; he was seen on the video holding his arm and running, Walker said.
Walker said it was not clear if anyone from the targeted group had returned fire. Several cartridge casings from a .45-caliber gun were recovered, Walker said, and the investigation was continuing.
Several blocks away, where Hunter was shot, outside Alixandro Mini Market Friday an employee declined to comment. No one answered the door at Hunter’s house.
Joyce Gibson, 58, who lives nearby, said Hunter was ordering food in the store when he was shot. “He didn’t deserve this,” she said.
“These young guys are shooting in the daytime,” she said. “I’m petrified.”
There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in a homicide. Anyone with information is being asked to call 215-686-3334.