It might read like a cliche at first glance, but Tremayne Walker's dreams were going to come true this holiday season.
The singer-songwriter's Christian band, Browne Boyz, was set to sign a deal with Fervent Records, having wowed executives at a showcase in Nashville in October.
With his musical aspirations within reach, Walker thought it also would be the perfect time to marry his fiancee of 5 1/2 years. They planned to leave the city behind and start a family in the suburbs.
The stars seemed to be lining up perfectly for Walker, 30. But then a maniacal, gun-toting fugitive allegedly intervened.
Homicide detectives said Walker was strolling through West Philadelphia with his two pit bulls at about 5 p.m. on Nov. 11, when he ran into Andrew Poole.
Poole, 22, was wanted by police for a Sept. 22 playground shooting that left an 18-month-old boy and a 31-year-old man seriously wounded.
Investigators said Poole mistakenly believed that Walker had somehow ratted him out to cops. He responded by allegedly shooting Walker twice in the back, police said. Walker died at the scene, on 61st Street near Oxford. In the days that followed, Walker's relatives said, Poole was spotted in the neighborhood, menacing potential witnesses.
A month has passed, and Poole remains on the loose - and, according to cops, he's still in the area, armed and dangerous.
In a show of grief and unity, Walker's family, friends and fellow musicians will gather for a prayer vigil and peace march at the murder site at 6 tonight.
They also will hold a live music benefit concert at the Greater Bibleway Temple, at 52nd Street and Lancaster Avenue, at 7:30 p.m.
Family members said the proceeds will go to a reward that will be presented to the Citizens Crime Commission of the Delaware Valley in hopes that it will lead to Poole's capture.
"This guy Andrew Poole has shortened a lot of dreams for a lot of people, and it's totally unfair," said Emmanuel Fuller, Walker's brother and drummer in their band.
"Tremayne was the biggest inspiration a person could ever have. Sometimes, thinking about all of this, you get lost for words," said Fuller, 22.
Walker's 24-year-old fiancee, a graduate student at the University of Maryland, was left too rattled by his murder to even have her name used. She spoke to him on the phone about a half-hour before he was gunned down.
"It's devastating. Death is hard to deal with anyway, but this is so tragic, it makes it that much worse," she said.
According to court records, Poole was arrested in North Philadelphia on Feb. 5 when cops stopped his Chevy Impala and found that he was concealing a handgun.
He was sentenced to three years' probation on Sept. 12, and was involved in a double shooting just two weeks later.
"It makes me feel like he was basically given a license to do this," Walker's fiancee said. Although police often point to weak sentencing as part of the city's gun violence problem, Poole's case is not a prime example, experts say.
"Poole had no prior record and no convictions, so the [sentencing] guidelines actually recommend probation," explained Jodi Lobel, the chief of the district attorney's office Felony Waiver Unit.
"Given the facts we had before us at the time, the district attorney recommended four years' probation. The judge went below that, but the verdict reflected the facts," Lobel said.
No one could have predicted that Poole would have gone on a shooting spree in the weeks and months that followed, Lobel noted.
But none of that eases the pain Walker's family feels over a promising life that was cut short.
"Once you got to know him and how sweet he was, you needed to have him in your life," Fuller said of his brother.