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'I said, "Sandrea, Sandrea." She didn't reply': Mom recalls daughter's shooting in West Philly

The fatal shooting of the 17-year-old girl occurred just before 11 p.m. Friday in West Philadelphia. Police said she was one of three innocent bystanders hit.

Sandrea Williams, 17, of West Philadelphia.
Sandrea Williams, 17, of West Philadelphia.Read moreCourtesy of Family

Nadia Syblis was sitting on the front steps of her West Philadelphia house Friday night talking to an older brother when she heard gunshots. She ran inside her home on the 300 block of North Simpson Street, looked out a window, and saw someone lying on the 6400 block of Carlton Street. Syblis went back outside.

"I hear someone saying, 'Sandrea, get up!' " Syblis, 34, recalled Saturday afternoon. Only then did she realize the person lying in the street was her 17-year-old daughter, Sandrea Williams. "I said, 'Sandrea, Sandrea.' She didn't reply."

Police drove the young woman to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead a short time later, at 10:44 p.m.

Sandrea was one of three teens hit in a hail of at least 22 bullets discharged from two guns. A 17-year-old male friend was taken to Penn Presbyterian, a 15-year-old boy to Lankenau Medical Center. Both were shot in a leg and were in stable condition.

Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives said that police believe the three teens were innocent bystanders. Police believe two gunmen came from a driveway on Simpson Street and fired, then fled. It was not clear who the intended target was and what the motive for the shooting was, Walker said.

"A poor 17-year-old girl was shot and killed over stupid gunplay," he said.

In all, 12 people were shot in Philadelphia between 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, five of them teenagers. In addition to West Philadelphia, those shootings were in North Philadelphia, Kingsessing, East Germantown, and Northeast Philadelphia. Sandrea was the only fatality.

She had lived with her mother and two sisters on Simpson Street, but had moved in February to East Mount Airy to help an aunt, Naisha Rhoden, 36, who has a medical condition that doesn't allow her to drive. Sandrea also helped Rhoden take care of her three children, ages 14, 9, and 5, family members said.

On Saturday, Syblis, who appeared tired as she sat on a couch in Rhoden's home, said she was "lost and devastated."

About 10 p.m. Friday, Syblis recalled, Sandrea parked on Carlton and then walked over to Simpson to say hello to her mother, who was sitting on the steps outside her home.

"After we talk, she walk across the street," the mother said. There was a group of about 20 teens on Carlton hanging out and talking. Sandrea went over to greet her friends, Syblis said. Shortly after, gunshots rang out.

Doctors told her Sandrea had been hit by one bullet, which had entered her back and exited through her neck. Syblis said her brother saw a man shooting from a driveway on Simpson Street.

Sandrea was a junior at Camelot Academy in North Philadelphia after spending her freshman and sophomore years at Overbrook High School, her mother said. Rhoden said her niece wanted to join the Army.

"She's very outgoing, friendly, always just laughing, always willing to babysit at the drop of a dime," said another aunt, Yasheca Rhoden, 39. "This person just disrupted a life, many lives," she said of whoever shot Sandrea.

Latisha McKnight, 40, said she was inside her home when she heard gunshots Friday night. "There were a lot of shots, like 'Pow, pow, pow, pow,' " she said.

She went outside and saw police put Sandrea in a car. "This is crazy. She's a kid," McKnight said.

A vigil was held Saturday evening at Simpson and Carlton Streets in memory of Sandrea. A $20,000 reward for information on her killing is being offered, Homicide Capt. Jack Ryan said on Twitter. Anyone with information should call 215-686-TIPS (8477).