The mother of an 18-year-old Northeast Philadelphia High School senior charged with murder in the fatal shooting of another teen in Oxford Circle says her son had been bullied by the other teen, a Frankford High School junior, and his friends.
"They terrorized the kids," Shabree White said in an interview Friday in her Northeast Philadelphia home. It was "fight or flight" for her son, Muhammed Goode, who faces a Nov. 1 preliminary hearing on murder and weapons charges in the Oct. 11 shooting of Messiah Chiverton on Magee Avenue, near Bustleton. Chiverton, 16, shot in the head, died four days later.
The shooting was witnessed by a police officer, but police have found it tough to probe, partly because of the city's well-documented "no-snitch" street culture. White's comments offer the first potential insights into what may have led to the slaying in broad daylight on a residential street.
She said she was speaking out because the issue is bigger than her son's case. "The main message is: What are we going to do to stop the bullying? What are we going to do in the community?" she said.
Homicide Capt. John Ryan said Friday that he could not comment on White's allegations. Police are still investigating the shooting and have been trying to identify and interview about 10 other teens who were with Chiverton that day.
Chiverton's slaying and two others this month show that teen shootings have continued unabated in Philadelphia. According to police statistics, 135 teens had been shot this year in the city as of Thursday, 20 fatally. In all of last year, 213 teens were shot, 27 killed. The highest total in recent years was in 2012, when 230 teens were shot in the city, 41 fatally.
The two other teens killed this month:
About 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Antoine Coleman, 17, was shot in the head and chest on North 16th Street near 67th Avenue in West Oak Lane, a half-block from his home. He was pronounced dead at Einstein Medical Center 40 minutes later.
About 8:40 p.m. Oct. 4, Rodney Copeland Jr., 18, was gunned down in a triple shooting on the 1500 block of South Stanley Street in Grays Ferry. Copeland, who lived nearby in South Philly, died two hours later at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Chiverton's slaying and Goode's arrest gripped Northeast Philadelphia.
White, 38, said her son, being held without bail at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road, hasn't admitted to the shooting. Goode's court-appointed lawyer, Joshua Scarpello, did not return a phone message seeking comment Friday.
"My first-born son is now behind bars," White said. "He's not registering what's going on. Muhammed, mainly, he's worried about me. He's a protector. He's remorseful, and he's scared."
She and her husband said they do not know where Goode allegedly obtained a gun. "This is a nongun house," White said.
After the shooting, the couple said, they found indications on social media that Chiverton was part of a gang or group called "1500." She has images from Instagram showing friends or associates of Chiverton's in which they had hand symbols or wrote "1500," allegedly representing their gang affiliation.
Also at the interview, a close friend of White's and the woman's 14-year-old son spoke of three occasions, starting in late July, when they said the teen and Goode were bullied by Chiverton and his friends. They described the attacks as random, perpetrated by teens who are not from their area of Northeast Philly.
The 14-year-old, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, said that at the time of the attacks he did not know Chiverton, but now recognizes his face.
In one of the incidents, on Oct. 10, the day before the shooting, the teen said, he, his friends, and Goode were walking toward the Max Myers Recreation Center, at Bustleton and Magee Avenues, when Chiverton's group "came around the corner of the park" and "started chasing us." Goode, who had been punched and kicked by the group the prior two times, grew tired of running, then "one of them ran up and hit him from behind," the teen said.
Goode "turned around and was fighting back," the teen said. Another of the attackers then hit Goode, and then Chiverton's group boarded a SEPTA bus, the teen said.
The next day, Oct. 11, the teen's mother said, she heard from kids who had been at the rec center that Goode "was jumped at the park a few minutes before the shooting."
Shortly afterward, on Magee Avenue, "we believe out of fear, he [Goode] responded the way he did," said the teen's mother, whom the Inquirer and Daily News are not identifying because it would disclose her son's identity.
Ryan, the homicide captain, wouldn't comment on the bullying allegations or on whether Chiverton was part of a gang. He said that on Oct. 11, Goode appeared to be by himself on a bicycle, "chasing a large group of kids who were fleeing down" Magee.
After catching up to Chiverton, the two had a fistfight, Ryan said. Goode dropped a gun, Ryan said.
The fleeing teens then returned, but Goode picked up his gun, shot Chiverton in the head, then fired two more times, but didn't hit anyone else, Ryan said. The group then fled again toward Roosevelt Boulevard.
Chiverton's family could not be reached Friday. A great-aunt of his did not return a call. Chiverton's grandmother, who lives in Frankford, did not respond to a letter left at her house Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in Wednesday's shooting in West Oak Lane, Antoine Coleman had stepped out of his house on North 16th Street and was hanging out with friends when he was shot, his uncle, George Coleman, 42, said Thursday in an interview in their family home.
The uncle said he had helped raised his nephew, a senior at Excel Academy South on Roosevelt Boulevard. "He liked playing video games and hanging out with friends," the uncle said. "He wanted to graduate and go to trade school" to become an auto mechanic.
Ryan said it was too early to tell whether Coleman was the intended target or a bystander. Police still were searching for the assailant Friday. Although neighborhood rivalries are not unusual in the city's northwest, Coleman had "no gang connections" and "no links to people with trouble," Ryan said.
To be sure, homicides in Philadelphia are not limited to teens. In all, 248 people were killed as of Thursday, a 9 percent increase over the same period last year. If the pace continues, the year's total homicide count could surpass the totals in each of the last four years, 2013-16, when homicides topped 280 in 2015, but would not be expected to surpass 2012's total of 331 people killed.