FOR SOME neighbors in Lawndale, losing Bill Glatz - a jeweler who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in October - meant losing a fundamental piece of the neighborhood's already in-flux identity.

Shortly after the shooting, Tom Glennon, a retired firefighter who has lived in Lawndale for more than three decades, called the incident the "death knell" for the neighborhood.

"This is it," Glennon, 65, told a Daily News columnist at the time. "I'm afraid of what this means. The neighborhood has changed so much."

Seven months later, Glennon now sees the shooting as an isolated incident in this otherwise peaceful section of Northeast Philadelphia.

"There's shepherds, sheep and the wolves," Glennon said this month. "They all mingle together - and that's life in the city."

But to many, the heinous crime is emblematic of a larger transformation that has slowly unfolded in the working-class neighborhood.

"The community trusts a lot less than it used to, and for good reasons," said resident Tom Dowling, glancing up tree-lined Passmore Street toward the storefront where Glatz, 67, was killed by Kevin Turner, an escaped city-jail inmate. Turner was also killed in the shootout and an alleged accomplice later turned himself in.

"Here was a longstanding anchor who's been there for a long time, and that triggered other people to just throw in the towel and say it can't be fixed."

Dowling said a sense of resignation seems to have crept in among neighbors, some of whom said the business climate has been a casualty of the area's shifting demographics. He said Lawncrest - the area containing Lawndale and Crescentville - no longer feels like the same neighborhood he moved into 18 years ago.

The population has swelled by more than 2,000 residents to about 38,300, and the area's demographics also shifted drastically, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

More than half of Lawndale and Crescentville's white residents have moved away in the past decade. Meanwhile, the area's black population has risen 130 percent to more than 16,000, the Hispanic population rose 72 percent to 8,500, and the Asian population rose 25 percent to 3,200.

Some longtime neighbors said change here has made familiar faces harder to find. Until his violent death, Glatz's was one of them.

"A lot of the neighbors, they don't shop as much on the avenue," said Diane Johnson, who has lived on Palmetto Street near Rising Sun Avenue for 16 years. "I just hope that the change is for the better."

Near the former jewelry store, a Cricket Wireless shop separates a Caribbean restaurant from a Chinese takeout, and nearby barbershops advertise $7 haircuts. A number of day-cares share the block with Keta's Lounge, where a black sign and a pink set of lips plastered on it inform neighbors that "Everyones Welcome."

Neighbors said that although the types of businesses operating in the area have changed with the demographics, it hasn't necessarily meant more foot traffic along this stretch of the avenue.

The storefront that housed Glatz's family jewelry store for 60 years recently reopened as a bilingual Christian bookstore. Employee Charleny Acevedo said business is slow at the Libreria Christiana Avivamiento, where books and other materials written in English and Spanish greet passers-by from the store's windows on Rising Sun.

While there are some concerns over shifting demographics and cultural transitions, neighbors still hold conversations with each other over their fences on sunny afternoons while children bike and rollerblade along the sidewalks.

Despite Glatz's death and the pain it caused those who have watched the area transform over the years, the sense of urban anonymity attached to population growth seems absent from Lawndale.

Dowling said the purchase by absentee landlords of homes that went up for sale after the nearby Naval depot transferred workers from the area has had a negative impact.

But he said longtime residents are reluctant to move away for economic reasons, among others.

Mark Mroz, a Philadelphia police officer who has worked as a community liaison in the area for about five years, said his interactions with neighbors haven't changed significantly since Glatz's shooting.

However, he understands longtime residents venting about the neighborhood's transformation.

"I grew up in Kensington, I watched that area and it's heartbreaking to see areas change," Mroz said, "We do have our issues over there [in Lawncrest], but it's relatively a safe area."