Two young children witnessed a horrific act of violence late Thursday night when police say they saw someone shoot their father in the head, killing him, on a North Philadelphia street corner.

Cops were called to Cornwall Street near Reese around 9:20 p.m. and found the 32-year-old victim lying on the sidewalk bleeding from a single gunshot wound to the head, Chief Inspector Scott Small said.

He was pronounced dead on the pavement at 9:29 p.m., Small said.

Sources said the man's children, ages 9 and 10, were with him at the time and saw their father get shot at point-blank range. Other people who had been outside on the block at the time of the shooting scattered before police arrived at the scene, cops said, and investigators had to wait for a relative of the man to take the children to be interviewed by detectives.

Police said they were unsure why the man, who remained unidentified early Friday morning, had been targeted. They found one .45-caliber shell casing at the scene, but said people in the area told cops they heard two shots.

As police investigated the murder -- the city's 279th of 2012 -- grieving relatives of the man gathered briefly on 5th Street. One man sobbed and shouted in Arabic as he was comforted and taken away from the scene by two other men.

At this time last year, the city had 276 homicides, according to police-department statistics. In 2010, there were 264 murders year-to-date; in 2009, there were 248. Though numbers have trended upward in the last three years, 2007 holds the record in recent years, with 326 murders in the same period.

Two men wearing all dark clothing fled the scene immediately after the shooting, Small said. They both fled on Cornwall Street, but police were unsure whether they ran toward 5th Street or 6th. No arrests had been made as of 12:30 a.m. Friday, and the homicide remained under investigation.