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Gunfire in W. Phila. kills 1, injures 3

The motive for the shootings at 52d and Market was unclear. The victims had not been identified.

A fusillade in West Philadelphia yesterday left one man dead, three wounded, and authorities dealing with a homicide in the middle of the afternoon on a busy street beneath the El.

Police last night said they were reviewing surveillance tapes in an effort to determine just what happened when gunfire erupted about 3:50 p.m. at 52d and Market Streets, near a station of the Market-Frankford El. One of the men was shot multiple times in the body and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Another man also suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and a third was hit in the leg. They were taken to HUP. Another shooting victim arrived at Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia with undisclosed wounds.

The victims were not identified, but police said they all were 21 years old.

The area is part of West Philly's commercial strip, and there were several hundred people on the street when the guns went off, police said.

"It could've been a lot worse with all the bullets flying," said Capt. Mike Sinclair of Southwest Detectives.

At the sound of gunshots, shoppers fled for cover inside stores along 52d Street, referred to in that area as "West Philly's Main Street."

"People were running in all directions," said an employee of Bargain House at 52d and Market. "One guy fell and people were climbing over him" to get in the store.

Out of concern for his safety, the employee would provide only his first name, John. The father of two from Blue Bell said he counted five gunshots. They were so loud they "sounded like mortar from fireworks," he said.

One of the victims he saw lying on the street was a known drug dealer in the area, he said. It is a corner where gunplay has become all too familiar, said he and others who gathered to watch the police carry on their investigation behind yellow tape lines.

"We're living in a horror," said Shelda Glover, who encountered the crime scene on her way home from work.

Eleven years ago she lost a son, Dorian, 19, who was shot in the back of the head by a neighbor.

As she watched detectives survey the shooting scene and interview witnesses, Glover shouted from the northeast corner of 52d and Market: "Where are the politicians now? This is a community in distress."

Meanwhile, the city's escalating homicide rate had grown by two before yesterday's shootings in West Philadelphia.

Philadelphia's 140th homicide victim of the year was found shot multiple times about 11 p.m. Tuesday on the 2300 block of North 32d Street in Strawberry Mansion, police said. He died just before 1 a.m. Wednesday at Temple University Hospital.

Police identified the victim yesterday as Walter L. Coleman, 54, of the 7900 block of State Road in the Holmesburg section of the Lower Northeast.

Investigators were seeking a motive in the slaying.

Coleman had been arrested and convicted in the past on burglary and theft charges but had no record of violence, according to city court records.

Victim No. 141 was a 50-year-old man who had been shot in the chest and was found slumped over a bike Wednesday night on the 5100 block of Harlan Street in West Philadelphia's Parkside section.

He was pronounced dead a short time later at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Police were trying to find his family yesterday and did not release his name.

Detectives did not have a motive in that slaying either.