Heated neighborhood rivalries erupted into near-fisticuffs and a judge grew emotional Wednesday during a hearing for the accused 18-year-old gunman in the fatal shooting Oct. 11 of a 16-year-old Frankford High School junior.
The loud courtroom altercation between relatives of the victim, Messiah Chiverton, and his alleged killer, Muhammed Goode, briefly interrupted the Philadelphia Municipal Court preliminary hearing, in which Goode was ordered to stand trial on one count of murder as well as two counts of attempted murder for firing at two of Chiverton's friends.
As Judge Patrick F. Dugan viewed neighborhood surveillance video of the confrontation and shooting, involving teens from Frankford and Northeast High Schools, someone from Goode's side of the courtroom gallery made a comment to a man identified in court as Chiverton's father. The father rose and began following the man who made the comment until some of Chiverton's relatives literally piled on top of him to prevent the incident from escalating.
No one was injured or arrested as a result of the incident, but Dugan was angered. His voice quavering with emotion, the judge addressed the crowd on the other side of the bulletproof glass in the high-security courtroom.
Dugan said Goode is "still a child, and I'm wondering what the heck is going on. Kids are killing kids every day."
Dugan said he grew up in the neighborhood around the shooting scene on Magee Avenue near Bustleton Avenue, and played ball in the Max Myers Recreation Center playground across the street.
"I got into some fights in probably every neighborhood around there, and I always went home and so did anyone I fought," said Dugan, an Army combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and a Bronze Star recipient.
"We have all these kids going around with all these guns," Dugan said. "This is crazy, folks, this is crazy."
Almost 150 teens have been shot this year in Philadelphia, 24 fatally, according to police statistics. Twenty-seven teens were fatally shot during all of 2016, the statistics show, and 26 the year before.
Two weeks after Chiverton's killing, a dispute among South Philadelphia teens ended when Salvatore DiNubile, 16, a junior at St. Joseph's Preparatory School, and Caleer Miller, also 16, a junior at a Mastery Charter School, were fatally shot. Another 16-year-old, Brandon Olivieri, a student at SS. John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School, has been charged with murder in the slayings.
Authorities alleged that Olivieri brought a gun to a dispute with other teens at 12th and Ritner Streets in South Philadelphia. Olivieri allegedly shot DiNubile but a stray bullet killed Miller, who was Olivieri's friend.
Testimony at Wednesday's hearing for Goode portrayed an equally senseless shooting.
Police Officer Lorenzo Hardy testified that he was in his patrol car in the 2100 block of Magee at 4:25 p.m. Oct. 11 when he noticed a group of teens fighting on the sidewalk.
Hardy said he got out of his car and saw Goode fire a handgun three times at several teens. He said he ordered the gunman to stop and Goode turned and looked him in the face before turning and running.
A surveillance video screened in court shows a teen in a gray hooded sweatshirt riding a bike on the sidewalk when he is approached and blocked by a teen identified as Chiverton. The bike rider scuffles with Chiverton and falls to the ground. The cyclist gropes in the grass of an embankment, holds up a gun, and begins firing.
The video follows the gunman as he dashes down the breezeway between houses and exits on a street parallel to Magee. There another camera picks him up appearing to stash the gun in the boughs of a fir tree and then remove the sweatshirt.
Goode was arrested a short time later.
Goode's mother, Shabree White, said last week that her son had been bullied for weeks by Chiverton and other teens before the shooting.
Police have declined to comment on White's allegation.