TWO BIRTHDAY celebrations in North Philadelphia ended in gunfire, leaving two men dead and a third injured in separate weekend incidents.
In the more recent shooting, police said a 28-year-old man was shot twice in the head as he sat in the driver's seat of a 2006 Dodge Magnum and a 43-year-old male passenger was shot several times in the arms, thigh and chest shortly before 2 a.m. yesterday on Master Street near 2nd. The driver, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he was in critical condition.
The Associated Press reported that a woman celebrating her birthday at the Liquid Room, a recently opened bar at 2nd and Master streets, had left with two male friends when their vehicle was targeted. It traveled several feet before coming to rest on the steps of a building. The woman, who was in the back seat, was unharmed, the report said.
Yesterday afternoon, two women stopped at the crime scene, where at least 14 chalk circles marked the locations of shell casings.
"He was just a good person that got caught up at the wrong time. He was good for the community," said a woman who declined to give her name but said she was the homicide victim's best friend.
"It's a nightmare," said the woman as she comforted the other woman, who sat in the driver's seat of a car pounding the steering wheel and yelling.
An employee at Liquid Room declined to comment, except to say the shooting did not happen there.
Neighbors, who described the area as quiet, said the bar opened over the summer but had not caused any problems.
"This is the first [shooting] I [heard] about in two years," said Eddie Ortiz, 67, who moved to the area three years ago.
Longtime resident Rafael Serrano, 62, said he heard police activity during the night but was somewhat surprised to find the chalk lines right in front of a weeded lot across the street from his house.
"We never had no problems here before," he said.
On nearby American Street, dozens of people gathering for a ribs-and-beer festival seemed oblivious to the shooting scene.
In the earlier shooting, police said a 32-year-old man was shot in the chest just before midnight Saturday inside a house on 27th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue. The man, whose name was not released, was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.
The man was killed when a gunman burst into a house party and opened fire in front of partygoers, 6ABC reported. When police arrived, they were met by a large and unruly crowd inside and outside the house and were forced to call for backup. Dozens of people from the house were taken to the Homicide Unit for questioning.
A woman walking into the house yesterday - where birthday signs still hung outside - claimed she didn't know anything about the shooting and shut the door.
Wayne Wakefield, a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, said he is concerned about the violence because he has relatives in the area. His sister moved away after her car was struck by gunfire.
"A lot of elderly are in the area. That's a particular concern as well," he said. "It's not as bad as it has been. We thought they were getting things calmed down."
No arrests were reported in either shooting.