"IT'S NOT ME!"
William Pugh kept telling the stranger who approached him about 11:30 a.m. on the sidewalk outside his home in Grays Ferry that he had the wrong guy, his family told the Daily News.
"It's not me," he repeated, before the unknown man, maybe out of frustration, maybe out of spite, pulled out a handgun and fired a round into Pugh's right leg.
Not satisfied, the punk then walked onto the porch of the adjacent home, pried open the door and fired a single shot into the darkened interior.
His bullet found a 3-year-old boy, who was struck in the right hip, police said.
Both victims were stable last night after being treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Inspector Anthony Washington said.
But the careless gunman remained at large, his identity unknown.
Also unclear, according to Washington, is why the attacker visited that house, on Newkirk Street near Wharton, in the first place.
From what he told his family, Pugh believes it was a case of mistaken identity: The gunman approached him as he and his wife were getting ready to leave for the grocery store, according to Helen Ruggiano, his mother-in-law.
Pugh's attacker kept asking to speak with someone, a name Pugh didn't recognize, Ruggiano said. An argument broke out when Pugh said he didn't know the mystery man, and the spat ended in gunfire.
Despite his injuries, Pugh drove himself to HUP, while his wife frantically called Ruggiano, who lives nearby.
"She kept screaming, 'The car is filled with blood,' " Ruggiano said. "The decency has been fading on this block for a while, but this takes the cake."
Ruggiano added that no one called 9-1-1 in the wake of the shooting, and that drugs and violence have been seeping into the neighborhood for several years.
"I'm just fed up with the complacency of everyone," she said. "Everyone sees it, and they let it happen; no one says anything."
Last night, hours after the violence erupted on that narrow street, all was quiet.
Christmas lights still blinked in Pugh's window, a stark contrast to the shattered glass and drops of blood across the front porch.
Just before 5 p.m., Pugh and his wife came home. Still dressed in hospital whites and leaning heavy on crutches, Pugh told a Daily News reporter that he had "nothing to say right now."
Meanwhile, neighbors said the younger victim - identified only as Mistah - is one of four kids living next to Pugh with his parents Ebony and Mo. There was no answer at the couple's home last night.
A police source said Mo was likely the person the gunman was looking for, but the exact motive was still unclear.
Lisa, who lives a few doors down and asked that only her first name be used, said she's had her heart set on leaving Newkirk Street for some time.
"I want to get out," said Lisa, who has a 3-year-old daughter of her own.
"This is crazy; I can't have my daughter growing up around this."