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Police identify teen charged in fatal subway beating

Police this afternoon charged Kinta Stanton, 16, a tenth-grade student at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia, with murder in connection with the beating death of a coffee shop manager in a Center City subway.

Police this afternoon charged Kinta Stanton, 16, a tenth-grade student at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia, with murder in connection with the beating death of a coffee shop manager in a Center City subway.

Police charged Stanton with murder and conspiracy after the medical examiner ruled that Sean Patrick Conroy, the 36-year-old Starbucks manager who was attacked in the 13th Street concourse of the Market-Frankford El, died of an "asthma attack brought on by blunt force trauma."

His death was ruled a homicide, said Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the medical examiner.

Police today are intently searching for three other Simon Gratz High School students who skipped classes Wednesday and ambushed Conroy on a subway concourse in the heart of Center City. The man died less than an hour after the attack.

Stanton, who was arrested immediately after the incident, told police the four youths had chosen Conroy at random and attacked him for kicks, with no motive of robbery, police said. Conroy, a mild-mannered manager of the Starbucks at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, collapsed and died after the youths struck him in the Market Street concourse near 13th Street at 2:35 p.m. A SEPTA police officer who witnessed the attack and rushed to Conroy's aid attempted to resuscitate him.

The brazenness of the mid-afternoon ambush in Center City, a block from City Hall, SEPTA headquarters and the Pennsylvania Convention Center, shocked police and unsettled commuters.

"This individual was targeted for no reason whatsoever," said Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross. "It's reprehensible. To me, it's unconscionable."

"It's appalling," said Khalid Ali, 27, a SEPTA commuter. "I don't know what kind of monsters would brutally do that to a hard-working American."

Blase Lombardo, from whom Conroy rented an apartment in a triplex in the 1900 block of South Tenth Street for the last five years, described Conroy as a model tenant.

"He never gave me any problem," said Lombardo. "He was the kind of guy who paid his rent ahead of time."

Lombardo said Conroy was recently engaged.

Acquaintances doubted Conroy provoked the attack. "He is so low-key, quiet and pleasant," said Ralph Petrone, manager of Rose's Deli at 10th and McKean Streets.

Petrone said Conroy stopped in at the corner grocery frequently to buy a snack cake and soda on his way to work. Conroy only spoke when he asked questions.

"I'm shocked," said Petrone. "Totally shocked. It was a brutal, brutal murder. I don't understand. He wasn't the kind of guy to attract attention. He was very meek and mild."

The attack happened in view of passersby and a transit policeman who was unable to help.

The four went after Conroy at 2:35 p.m., authorities said. He had just gotten off work and was on the concourse of the westbound Market-Frankford El below 13th and Market Streets. A steady stream of commuters was coming and going.

A SEPTA sergeant who routinely patrols the concourse was on the eastbound side when he saw the victim in a dispute with four juveniles. The youths fled when the sergeant ran over to intervene.

The sergeant saw one of the youths take a swing at Conroy, Harold said. The sergeant rushed to the other side of the platform, but by the time he arrived, the youths had fled.

SEPTA Police Capt. Steven Harold said Conroy went "into some type of difficult breathing, chest pains, palpitations. He was in obvious distress."

The sergeant administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until emergency crews arrived. The victim was pronounced dead at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital at 3:09 p.m.

Officials found no blood at the scene, and the victim had no visible lacerations or bruises, Harold said.

The officer was able to identify one of the youths, the 16-year-old who was charged last night. His name was not released.

Police Lt. Mel Williams said the teen had no police record.

The boy is a student at Gratz, Philadelphia School District officials confirmed. The school, in North Philadelphia, dismisses its students at 3:04 p.m.

The Starbucks outlet was closed yesterday.

"Our thoughts remain focused on the family, friends and colleagues of Sean Conroy, a longtime and well-respected Starbucks employee," the company said in a statement. "This is a tragic incident that has had a significant impact on the many people who knew and worked with Sean."

The attack occurred in a station heavily used by commuters and conventioneers that is not considered a trouble spot.

Contributing to this article were Inquirer staff writers Vernon Clark and Kristen Graham.