De'Von Pickett had only been in town for two days.

The Bronx native - a road manager for rapper Nicki Minaj - was in Philadelphia to start rehearsals for her forthcoming tour, and took the opportunity to meet up with a few friends on Tuesday night. By the next morning, he was dead.

Pickett, 29, succumbed to stab wounds dealt outside an East Germantown bar in an early-morning attack.

On Tuesday evening, Pickett and four friends - some from the tour, some local - had been out drinking, bouncing from Cavanaugh's in University City to Che Bar and Grill, a small, unassuming bar in East Germantown with a pool table and a dance floor. They knew the bartender there, a law enforcement source said.

At some point, a former Che's employee showed up at the bar, drunk, the source said. She got into a fight with the owner. And when she walked behind the bar and started pouring herself drinks, the source said, the owner kicked everyone out.

Pickett and his friends filed out with the rest of the evening crowd. They hadn't been involved in the argument, the source said.

But it was late, past 2 a.m., and the group wanted to make sure their bartender friend made it safely to her car, the source said.

Someone called her to make sure she was all right. She'd be out soon, she told them, and so Pickett and his friends waited by her car. That's when, police say, two to three men, at least one carrying a knife, approached. They began pushing and shoving Pickett and his friends, who tried to diffuse the situation, the source said.

It would be to no avail. In the ensuing attack, Pickett was stabbed to death. A friend of his, a 27-year-old man who also worked for Minaj, was wounded and remained in critical condition at Einstein Medical Center, where Pickett was pronounced at 2:45 a.m.

Minaj, on Instagram, called the attack "unbelievable."

"Another senseless act of violence that took the life of a great guy. So sad," she wrote.

The singer Rihanna posted a photo on Instagram showing her smiling next to Pickett - he had worked on Kanye West's 2008 Glow in the Dark tour, which also featured Rihanna.

"One of the nicest, coolest, funniest people I've ever met and toured with," she wrote. "Sad to lose a beautiful spirit like yours."

On Wednesday, police were still trying to piece together exactly what led to the death of Pickett, nicknamed "Day Day," a longtime roadie who had worked on several high-profile tours, including shows for Britney Spears.

It was unclear, the source said, whether the altercation with the former employee inside the bar was connected to the attack outside. Detectives recovered surveillance footage of the incident from nearby businesses. The bar, a two-story brick establishment at 6364 Stenton Ave., anchors a strip of mom-and-pop stores.

Residents said the bar, though it has changed owners, had been a neighborhood fixture for nearly 30 years. In that time, neighbors said, they could not recall a similar incident.

"It's nothing that's different than any other bar - a little rowdy, but no hostilities, no shootings, nothing," said Barry Kelinson, who owns the clothing store next door to the bar.

"It's a nice, quiet, neighborhood bar," said Vanita Cruse, who owns an eyeglass store across the street.

A man at the front door who identified himself as the bar's manager declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Pickett's friends and colleagues expressed shock and grief at the news.

"I am still in shock & don't want to believe this. And it hurts even more knowing how good these two dudes are. How hard these guys work. And how loyal they are to whoever they are down with & each other," the rapper Fabolous wrote on Instagram.

Police described Pickett's killer as a man in his 30's, about 5-8 and 160 pounds with a light complexion, thin build, and full beard. He was last seen in dark gold, Buick Lesabre.

215-854-2961 @aubreyjwhelan