Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Mummer, daughter allegedly went too far, neighbors say

South Philly residents reject the street justice allegedly meted out by Mummers legend Carmen "Butch" D'Amato and his daughter.

Carmen D'Amato (left), and Rita D'Amato were arrested in a Queen Village attack on a homeless man.
Carmen D'Amato (left), and Rita D'Amato were arrested in a Queen Village attack on a homeless man.Read morePhiladelphia Police Department

MUMMERS aren't exactly known for self-restraint, so perhaps it's not surprising that a former Fancy Brigade captain and his daughter might want to deal with certain matters personally.

Why call the cops when you got a baseball bat and a gun right here?

Police say Carmen "Butch" D'Amato, 62, former leader of the South Philly Vikings, and his daughter Rita, 36, attacked a 36-year-old homeless man on Oct. 25 in Queen Village. They were arrested Friday.

"You know what you did, you son of a bitch," one of the D'Amatos allegedly said before the early-morning attack, possibly a reference to a recent string of car break-ins.

Rita D'Amato is accused of beating the man with a bat. Carmen D'Amato, a former Democratic committeeman with a checkered past, is accused of shooting him in the leg when he tried to flee from 2nd and Carpenter streets.

Cops have not linked the victim to any of the break-ins. Even if they had, the D'Amatos' neighbors said yesterday that the South Philly street-corner justice they allegedly meted out went too far.

"It's a little over the top," said R.C. Collins, whose wife's car was broken into on the night of the shooting. "That's not what we do around here."

Collins said he heard the gunshots and saw the victim lying on a manhole cover, screaming that he'd been shot. He said it was a jarring scene in the upscale neighborhood.

"It's one of the safest streets in Philly," Collins said.

Surveillance footage from a home at the corner, released by police, shows a man and a woman waiting for the victim as he walks down the middle of narrow Carpenter Street. She attacks first with the bat. As the victim runs toward 2nd Street, the man fires toward his legs. The camera captured the muzzle flash.

"We were shocked when we heard that something happened on this corner," said Kathleen Factor, a lawyer who lives on nearby Moyamensing Avenue. "Why are they on the corner with a gun and a bat? I mean, call 9-1-1. Don't attack someone."

"I think everyone around here thinks it was vigilante justice," said Shawn Ogden, a neighbor who was walking his Chihuahua and terrier down 2nd Street yesterday. "I feel pretty strongly that there's no place for vigilantism."

Carmen D'Amato - once described by a local writer as "one of the most creative Mummers ever to take a club up Broad Street" - was inducted into the Mummers Hall of Fame at age 21.

In 1989, he was sentenced to four years in prison for evading taxes owed on profits from methamphetamine deals. He continued to plan for the 1990 Mummers Parade from prison by passing messages through visitors and making collect calls to the South Philly Vikings clubhouse.

"Two things are of exceptional importance in his life: his family and the Philadelphia Mummers," D'Amato's lawyer, James Schwartzman, said at his sentencing.

"Butch is the Mummer who made it possible. In this club, he is The Man!" D'Amato's brother, Nicholas D'Amato, said in a 1990 Daily News story on the Vikings' third consecutive first-place finish in the Fancy Brigade Division.

Nicholas D'Amato later admitted to being a drug kingpin and went into the witness-protection program after becoming a government informant and secretly recording conversations with friends and family.

The D'Amatos' sister, Gloria D'Amato, was once a secretary for former state Sen. Vince Fumo.

Yesterday, at the Front Street home where Carmen and Rita D'Amato live, a woman on a second-floor balcony declined to comment. Two people standing at the front door quickly disappeared into the house.

- Staff writer Morgan Zalot contributed to this report.