The victim of a shooting outside of Fox 29's studios in Old City early Sunday is the nephew of city Republican leader Michael Meehan and part of the family that's run Philadelphia's Republican party for three generations.
Edward "Eddie" DiDonato Jr., 23, remains in critical condition at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital after being shot six times by Temple Law student Gerald Ung, 28, following a confrontation on Market Street near 4th about 2:30 a.m., police said.
"He's got a long road ahead but we're trying to take joy in little victories," Meehan said of his nephew's condition. "The last couple of days he's been able to move all of his extremities but he's far from in the clear."
DiDonato's father, Edward DiDonato Sr., is an attorney at the Center City law firm of Fox Rothschild, and his mother, Marianne, is Meehan's sister.
DiDonato - who was shot in his chest, shoulders, abdomen and hand - underwent his third surgery yesterday, in which doctors focused on his lungs and liver, Meehan said.
All six bullets remain lodged in his body, and he's been in and out of consciousness, sometimes as a result of induced comas, according to Meehan.
DiDonato, who graduated with a degree in criminal justice from Villanova University last spring, was captain of the school's men's lacrosse team and played that sport and football at La Salle College High School.
"Being in peak physical condition, that's probably the only thing that saved him," said Meehan, who noted that crowds of 40 to 50 people at a time have showed up at the hospital to visit DiDonato, Meehan said.
Details of what led to the shooting, which occurred shortly after closing time in the popular nightlife area, remain sketchy.
Supervisors at the Police Department's Central Detectives and Public Affairs divisions said that the incident remains under investigation and that a motive has not been determined beyond an argument that preceded the shooting.
Meehan said that 30 witnesses were present at the time of the shooting, including five of DiDonato's friends.
"Nobody has an explanation," he said. "Apparently, one of his [DiDonato's] friends did a chin-up on the scaffolding and this gentleman took exception."
Fox 29, whose surveillance videos caught the shooting on tape, reported that Ung was rushed by a group of people and that "when the video is slowed down, the shooting victim can be seen delivering punches even as the gun is discharging."
Lt. Frank Vanore, police spokesman, said that Ung waited at the scene and approached the first officer who arrived.
A gun, believed to be the weapon used in the shooting, was recovered from the scene, Vanore said.
Fox reported that Ung had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, issued to him in his home state of Virginiayet one of the charges against Ung, along with attempted murder, is firearms not to be carried without a license, according to court records.
Vanore said that he was not allowed to comment on whether Ung had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, due to a confidentiality clause within gun permit laws.
Ung was a fourth-year law student at Temple University who was taking night classes. He was scheduled to graduate this spring.
He was released Monday on 10 percent of $200,000 bail, which appears to have been posted by his mother.
Calls to her Virginia home were not returned yesterday.
As of last night, 36 people had joined a Facebook group titled "Gerald Ung is innocent."
A classmate of Ung's who was reached via Facebook but who asked not to be identified said he believed that his friend was innocent based on the security footage.
"I also know Gerald to have a cool temper and not be easily offended or insulted or prone to provoke arguments," the friend said.