RHASHE ALLEN came in as murder No. 350.
To some, he was just a statistic: A man who was shot once in the back of the head on a dark North Philadelphia street shortly before 1 a.m. on Nov. 11.
A commenter on a blog based in Northern Liberties made heartless assumptions: "Criminal scumbags deserve to be shot. They may have kids, siblings, parents . . . but THEY are the ones who chose their life of crime. You make your bed you lay in it."
At the time, Allen's family was making funeral arrangements for a man they knew wasn't a "scumbag" - but a son, brother, nephew and friend, whom most knew as ROC, a nickname he'd had since childhood because he was a rough-and-tumble kid who always got back up. "He was as hard as a rock," his father said.
Cops called him a hardworking, up-and-coming entrepreneur, and they said he was gunned down during a robbery at 7th Street and Girard Avenue.
Rhashe Allen, 22, was an honors graduate of Upper Darby High School, where he was also a wrestling star. He had earned an associate's degree in hospitality from the Community College of Philadelphia and planned to attend Temple University in the spring to study business management.
While in college, he worked two jobs - in each, helping those who needed help themselves - to help pay tuition.
He had a security job at the Quadrangle, an assisted-living facility for the elderly in Havertown, Delaware County. And in his job as a home-life coordinator and program specialist for S.P.I.N. Inc., a nonprofit agency based in the Northeast that helps children and adults with disabilities and their families, he took residents on day trips to movies or shops.
"He went above and beyond that, though, and integrated the individuals into his own family," said Frank Brown, the agency's division director for adult services.
Allen's relatives are angry that he was misunderstood, written off and stereotyped. His murder garnered little attention from the news media.
The Daily News included Allen's murder in a weekend roundup of citywide violence and ran a picture of Allen's sheet-covered body being photographed by a crime-scene investigator that Allen's family called "tasteless."
Action News aired an interview with his father on Nov. 12, the day after Allen was killed.
On Nov. 16, a day before Allen was buried, his family held a fund-raiser at Club Moda, a dance club on Chestnut Street near Front, to raise reward money to try to drum up more information about his murder. They raised $2,000 and funneled it to the Citizens Crime Commission.
"When he was growing up, I did everything that I could to keep him out of trouble," said his father, Walter Butler III.
"Rhashe wasn't interested in the streets."
On a recent afternoon, Allen's father and grandmother sat in the living room of the West Oak Lane rowhouse that Allen had called home in recent years, and played a tribute to him on their DVD player. Allen's friend, Brook Tegene, created the DVD in Allen's memory.
It included pictures of Allen joking with friends, hugging and kissing his girlfriend, Veronica, arm in arm with family members at his graduation.
As his grandmother and father watched images they had seen so many times, something stood out in each snapshot: His smile.
"Rhashe had a teacher at community college that would call him Bling Bling and everyone thought that it was because he had this large 12-inch chain that he wore, and because he liked to wear pink and other loud colors," said his uncle Karoun Butler.
"But after Rhashe passed, that same teacher was talking to Rhashe's girlfriend and he told her that he didn't call Rhashe Bling Bling because of what he wore.
"He called him that because he said that if Rhashe were to walk into a room where all the lights were out and it was completely dark, he could light up the room with his smile," Butler said.
After they played the video for the fourth time, Kanye West's "The Good Life" was heard through the TV's speakers.
When Allen's grandmom, Billie Butler, was asked what she misses most about him, she replied, "He's my She-she."
Butler explained that when Allen was little, she called him She-she for the last three letters of his name. When he grew older, he started calling her by the same name.
"Then it just stuck," she said. "We were each other's She-shes."
As hard as he worked, he played just as hard, Allen's friends and relatives said. Every year he traveled to Miami with friends and put the entire trip on his credit card.
"Then we would just pay Rhashe," said Brook Tegene.
"Even if we didn't have the money, he would just say, 'Give it to me when you can.' "
He loved his 2001 red Monte Carlo, which he called his "cherry cheesecake."
The night of Sunday, Nov. 11, about two hours before Allen was gunned down, he was on the back porch of the West Oak Lane house, on Ogontz Avenue near 69th, talking to his dad.
"I was just talking to him about little things, you know, his girlfriend, maybe thinking about saving some more cash and curbing his spending a little bit," Butler said.
Butler was supposed to go to a friend's house to watch the Sugar Shane Mosley/Miguel Cotto boxing match.
"After we finished talking, it was like, 'All right, love you, see you,' " his dad said. It was the last time they spoke.
Dressed in a pink polo shirt and jeans, Allen headed off to Club Samba, on 7th Street near Girard, to meet friends.
Tegene and another friend were in another car. "When we got on 7th Street and Rhashe was parking, there
weren't any more spots left, so I went around to 8th Street," Tegene said.
Tegene said that as he and his friend were walking up to the club, Allen called him on his cell phone and told them to hurry because he was waiting in line.
"But once I got up to the line, he wasn't there," Tegene said.
They figured he was inside. Tegene and his friend paid their cover charge and tried to find Allen.
"It was weird because even as we were waiting in line and paying our money to get in, my friend said he heard gunshots," Tegene said.
They couldn't find Allen in the club. So Tegene and his friend left and tried to find Allen at the spot where they knew he had parked his car.
They got to 7th Street and saw yellow police tape. Cops hovered around. They didn't know what to think. They could partially see Allen's parked car, but nothing else.
Tegene called Allen repeatedly on his cell phone. Nothing.
Tegene tried to get behind the tape. The cops, he said, told him to back off, and Tegene and his friend left.
They called Allen's girlfriend to see if she'd heard from him. She hadn't.
Minutes later, Allen's girlfriend called back and said three chilling words:
"It's a homicide."
Tegene and his friend headed back to 7th Street, where they told detectives they were Allen's friends.
"The cops took us in for questioning and I sat down on a bench, and that's when I broke down," Tegene said.
"I was just like, 'He's not dead,' " he said. "The last thing that I ever thought was that Rhashe would get shot.
"This was a young man. Rhashe was not into the streets. If anybody had any idea what type of person he was, they would know he was a good person.
"The streets just weren't his lifestyle."
Investigators believe that Allen was robbed, said Homicide Sgt. William Gallagher, who declined to specify what was taken.
"Right now, we have nobody stepping forward to say that they saw anything," Gallagher said.
Gallagher said cameras at 7th and Girard didn't capture any footage to aid in the investigation.
Allen's 5-foot-11 body was found just steps from his parked car. A killer had left him on the sidewalk with a bullet in his head.
His dad, Butler, said that Allen had a remote sensor for his car alarm attached to his key ring. He told detectives that Allen must have heard it go off while waiting in line at the club.
Butler believes that his son had headed back to check on his car. He said detectives told him that Allen's keys had been found on the floor of the passenger side. The car was in neutral.
About 200 people attended Allen's funeral, a standing-room crowd at East Bethel Baptist Church, in West Oak Lane.
Sitting in the living room with photos of his son spread across the brown leather couch, Butler said he had lost more than a son.
"Me and Rhashe had more than what you would consider a normal father-and-son relationship. He was like my other half," Butler said, his eyes softening.
"I always told him recently, 'All right, I told you everything that I could, I've shown you everything that I possibly could,' " Butler recalled. " 'I just hope that I'm around for the second half.' "
Now, Butler says: "We're all just trying to make it through."
Staff Writer Dana DiFilippo contributed to this report.