Hidden beneath a blanket of high weeds, detectives found the gun used in a triple shooting that led to a videotaped police beating on May 5, authorities said yesterday.
The gun - a Glock 9 mm - was found last week in an overgrown, wooded area along North 2nd Street, not far from where cops stopped three shooting suspects in a gold Grand Marquis and delivered a barrage of kicks and punches in an incident that sullied the city's reputation.
Ballistic tests matched the gun to fired shell casings found at 4th and Annsbury streets, North Philadelphia, where police alleged that Pete Hopkins, 19, shot and wounded three men as they stood on the corner, said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.
Hopkins' attorney, D. Scott Perrine, said the discovery of the gun - 25 days after the shooting - is "highly suspicious," particularly given that police have provided different accounts of the shooting.
"In a case like this, they couldn't have more of a motive to manufacture evidence," he said.
Police said Hopkins and two companions - Dwayne Dyches and Brian Hall - jumped into a Marquis and took off. Police stopped the car in the 3700 block of North 2nd Street, where a Fox 29 News helicopter hovered overhead as police beat the suspects.
For weeks, detectives had searched for the gun. Then on May 30, after city employees cleared a grassy area of weeds, detectives found it just south of Rising Sun Avenue, Vanore said.
Yesterday, meanwhile, Perrine got into a shouting match with Assistant District Attorney Christopher Diviny during a morning court proceeding. Municipal Judge Frank Palumbo was to hear a pretrial motion filed by Perrine on behalf of Hopkins, but Diviny asked for a postponement.
Perrine accused prosecutors of employing "a stall tactic" in a case that he believes is a political hot-potato for District Attorney Lynne Abraham.
Diviny called the accusation "absurd." At issue, Diviny said, is ensuring that Hopkins is aware that Perrine has criminal charges pending against him for alleged cocaine possession last year. Diviny said he wanted the opportunity to read Hopkins a written statement designed to inform defendants that their attorney is also a defendant facing prosecution. Defendants are asked if they would like new counsel and if not, they're required to waive their right to contest the quality of legal representation if convicted.
The criminal case against Perrine is being prosecuted by the state Attorney General's Office, not Abraham's office.
Palumbo granted a one-day delay to bring Hopkins from the jail to the courtroom, where a prosecutor is expected today to make him aware of Perrine's case.
Perrine, who said he has discussed the charges against him with Hopkins, called the legal move "slander" and "harassment." *