Jim Stuhlman walked his dog down Woodcrest Avenue almost every night.

His neighbors got to know him - some of them walked their own dogs with him. He picked up trash in the neighborhood park and planted grass. He made a point of stopping to say hello.

Stuhlman's block, 6400, was quiet, his neighbors say - the worst crime they could remember recently was a few car break-ins.

So when a gunshot rang out there around 8:30 Thursday night - as the 51-year-old was walking his dog - many residents didn't realize what they had heard.

"It just sounded like a car backfired," said Kimmy Angiolillo. "A pop," Vito Baldini called it. Like the fireworks that kids in the neighborhood sometimes fire off, thought Janice Bryson.

Then police cars swarmed the street, Angiolillo said, and "I realized something happened."

Stuhlman was found lying on the sidewalk, shot once in the chest, still clutching his dog's leash and a flashlight.

The dog, a Labradoodle named Molly, had stayed with him, shivering, neighbors said. It never barked.

Stuhlman was pronounced dead later that night.

On Friday homicide Capt. James Clark said police were still trying to determine a motive in the case. Stuhlman was found with cash in his wallet, and police don't believe he was robbed, Clark said.

He said detectives were gathering footage from security cameras in the area and were working to pull together a description of Stuhlman's assailant, who ran off.

"My understanding is there are a lot of surveillance cameras out there," he said. "Hopefully [the footage] will depict this crime."

Clark said Stuhlman owned a landscaping business with his brother and was married with a young daughter. He and his daughter often walked the dog together.

"For whatever reason, [on Thursday] he said to her, 'It's a little late tonight. I don't want you walking with me.' So, in effect, he possibly saved his daughter's life as well," Clark said.

Family members did not answer the door at Stuhlman's home Friday afternoon. Down the street in Overbrook, neighbors said they were still in shock. Carmen DiBonaventura, who has lived on Woodcrest for 40 years, said shaken residents are looking into installing more security cameras and appointing a block captain.

The Overbrook Farms Club Board, the local civic association; Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.' office; and Our Lady of Lourdes Church are offering a combined $2,500 reward in the case. That's in addition to the $20,000 reward the city offers for an arrest and conviction in connection with all murders. Anyone with any information on the case can call the homicide unit at 215-686-3334.

On Friday, at the spot where Stuhlman was found, someone had placed a bouquet of white hydrangeas. A man wearing a priest's collar emerged from a house across the street, sprinkled holy water on the flowers, and went back in. "A private prayer," he told a reporter.

215-854-2961

@aubreyjwhelan