Two gunmen lit up a troubled stretch of North Philadelphia on Monday afternoon, firing at least 20 rounds at a group of men on West Stiles Street. The gunfire left three men dead and another wounded, and police scrambling to identify the shooters.
The burst of gunfire happened shortly after 3:30 on the 1100 block. The location is just off Girard Avenue, about a block from the pre-K-through-eighth-grade St. Malachy School, which had to be locked down while police officers responded to the scene.
Police Capt. James Clark said the gunmen walked up to the group of men standing on the block, opened fire, and ran off, possibly jumping into a gray SUV waiting nearby.
Authorities on Tuesday identified the three men who were slain:
The fourth victim, a 26-year-old man who was shot in his stomach, was in stable condition at Hahnemann as of Tuesday morning, police said.
Law enforcement sources said the area has long attracted police attention due to suspected drug activity. Last year, the District Attorney's Office arrested 15 people and accused them of belonging to the "TNT gang," named for Tenth and Thompson Streets, which intersect around the corner from Monday's shooting scene.
Clark said it was too early to identify a motive behind the shooting, or the culprits. Police said Tuesday an argument was believed to have sparked the deadly altercation, but further details about the dispute weren't available.
Clark said Tuesday morning that ballistic evidence suggests there were at least two shooters, but that investigators were reviewing surveillance video for additional clues.
Following the shooting, officers were marking the bullet casings, and an orange prescription pill bottle was on the sidewalk near where the victims had been.
Several homes on the block had Easter decorations in the windows, or toys on the front lawns behind chain-link fences.
Edward Smallwood, who has lived on the block with his girlfriend and four children for about three years, said they once heard shots right outside their windows.
"It's too close to home," he said.
He said neighborhood kids can often be seen playing in a small lot just feet from where the shooting took place.
"There are kids over there just getting out of school and this happens — they don't think about that. Senseless, man."