Karamo Kaba, grief etched on his face, stood Thursday on the sidewalk outside BI's Restaurant in Elmwood and stared at the blood of his nephew Cherno Kabba, 24, one of two men shot to death Wednesday night after what police said was a dispute with two other men.
They were among nine shooting victims in 18 hours in Philadelphia, five of whom died, police said.
The gunfire outside the restaurant at 6515 Elmwood Ave. erupted about 7:15 p.m. Police said the two victims and the gunman and his father had started arguing inside the restaurant before moving outside and getting physical. Kabba was shot in the face and torso, and an unidentified 22-year-old friend was shot in the back, police said. Both were pronounced dead at the scene at 7:35 p.m.
Kaba — a native of Guinea who spells his last name differently from his nephew — said a witness told him that his nephew had gone to the restaurant to buy a carryout meal, and that as he was leaving two men attacked him for reasons he did not know. Kabba dropped his food and ran to 65th Street and Elmwood to alert a friend that he had been attacked. When the two returned to the front of the restaurant, the gunman opened fire, Kaba said he was told.
"As soon as they get there, the guy lifted up his shirt and took the gun out and shot his friend first," Kaba said. "He lay in the middle of the street and died there. My nephew got shot in the head while he was running, and they keep following him and shooting at him while my nephew was trying to get into the restaurant."
The gunman had a permit to carry the firearm and surrendered to arriving officers, police said. No charges had been filed as of Thursday evening, and police said they were looking into the possibility that the shots had been fired in self-defense.
But Kaba was adamant that the gunman could not have acted in self-defense. "If it's self-defense, how will you shoot somebody in the head three times while they are running from you?" he asked. "And my nephew didn't have no gun, and neither did his partner. It was a fistfight."
Kaba said he and a carload of relatives had come to the restaurant Thursday after identifying the body of Kabba, who was born in the United States. He was unmarried, unemployed, lived with his mother, and had a 3-year-old daughter, the uncle said.
"I feel so depressed and very upset about it, but life is life," said Kaba. "I'm not happy about what happened to my nephew, but I will let justice take its course."
Nana Bintu Cisse, owner of BI's Restaurant, said she was not there at the time, but was told that the gunman had been dining with his father when they went outside to fight the two victims. Her manager called her at home, and she arrived before the bodies were removed, she said.
"That was so scary," said Cisse, a native of Mali who has owned the restaurant for 15 years. "We were so scared last night. We pray every day to God. Every day."
The gunfire Wednesday and early Thursday was not confined to Elmwood. In addition to the five men killed, four others were wounded in shootings during a particularly violent 18 hours, police said. The fatal shootings brought to 98 the number of slayings in the city this year, compared with 108 during the same time in 2017, according to police statistics.
Police gave these accounts of the other shootings: