VIOLENT DEATH IS no stranger to the Tucker family.
The shooting death of high school sophomore Appolonia Tucker Tuesday night was the latest in a string of tragedies for a family that already had buried a brother and a mother due to violence and an accident.
Police found Appolonia, 16, shot once in the side of her face with a 9 mm handgun inside her boyfriend's family's rowhouse on Hoopes Street near 49th in West Philadelphia.
Cops said one of her boyfriend's friends had argued with Appolonia while she sat on a bed on the second floor when she was shot. The boyfriend and at least one other male were in the house at the time, police said.
Homicide Lt. Mel Williams said detectives had a warrant for a suspect's arrest as of yesterday afternoon, but did not want to release more details because of the ongoing investigation.
"I let her go out to see her boyfriend and the next time I see her is at the morgue," whispered Appolonia's mother, Yvette Tucker, two hours after identifying her child's body.
"It just doesn't make sense."
More than a dozen teddy bears were placed at the lamppost outside the Tucker home, on 24th Street near Tasker, yesterday while mourning neighbors crowded the front stoop. Tucker said her daughter had been dating Jonathan White, 15, for nearly two years. The couple had a 10-month-old daughter, Jamira, together.
The pair rarely bickered and when they did, it was over "teenage stuff," Tucker said. On Tuesday, Tucker said Appolonia missed class at Simon Gratz High.
Later that day, she took the baby to White's house to spend a few nights."I don't know what happened to my daughter in there," she said .
Police notified the boyfriend's family about the slaying, but did not notify her, said Tucker. A cousin told her about 4 a.m. that her daughter had been shot, and Tucker called area hospitals to find her child. She never did.
Tucker then drove with a friend to Hoopes Street and learned the news.
Her granddaughter, clad in a diaper and a thin shirt, was with a neighbor on the block. Tucker said she was told that White and his mother were being questioned by cops.
Appolonia was the 130th homicide of the year.
Her uncle, Tyrone, 40, was shot to death in August 2002 in a robbery in his North Philadelphia home.
Her grandmother, Jannie May, was killed in 1970 when a friend accidently ran over her with his car, the family said.
Appolonia's cousin, Mary Tucker, said she was sick of losing her relatives to Philadelphia's never-ending murder epidemic that has erased a generation of the city's young African-Americans.
"You want to blame [Mayor] Street," she said. "You want to blame the cops.
"If you smoke reefer or buy those blunts, you are contributing to all these homicides.
"Black folks need to stop waiting for this messiah to come.
"How can you help stop this?
"Be the best person you can be," she said. *