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Slaying of toddler Terrence Webster haunts Chester neighborhood

The Chester home where 2-year-old Terrence Webster lived looks out onto a playground with three yellow sliding boards and well-kept benches where parents can sit and watch.

The Chester home where 2-year-old Terrence Webster lived looks out onto a playground with three yellow sliding boards and well-kept benches where parents can sit and watch.

But children don't play here. Small plastic drug bags litter the grass. Dealers hide their stashes in a nearby gutter. They lurk near the plastic play set at all hours, neighbors say.

On Sunday, the gun violence that often follows drugs came to Terrence's door in the Chester Apartments housing development on West Ninth Avenue.

The boy, known by his neighbors as "Li'l Pop" for his love of Popsicles and Pop-Tarts, died Monday at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He had been shot in the head.

"We used to call this place the suburbs," said a 37-year-old neighbor who asked to be identified only as Tate. "Now we call it the projects.

"You know it takes a village to raise a child. But we don't have no villages no more," he added.

Neighbors heard gunshots about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when Terrence's parents were returning home. Terrence's mother, Tisheta Green, 25, was shot in the leg. His father, Thomas Webster, 26, was shot in the hand. Police did not speculate on a motive.

Netta Jones, 27, who lives across a parking lot from Green, said her boyfriend ran outside at the sound of the shots but saw no one.

"The dad was crying," she said Monday. "He said, 'He shot my young buck in the head.' "

Police did not wait for paramedics. Officer Steven Byrne drove Terrence and his mother toward the hospital, handing them over to paramedics who met them along the way. Webster met with police later at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where he and Green were treated.

Teddy bears lined the doorstep of Terrence's home Monday, and Tate had hung a bear in a plastic bag on the door to cover Sunday's bullet holes. A boy in a red shirt walked alone to the house to leave a stuffed giraffe for his friend.

Across the parking lot, neighbors signed a sympathy card.

"My son doesn't know yet because he used to play with Pop," Jones said as her 9-year-old daughter, Da'Najsha, put down her jump rope and wrapped her arms around her mother. "This was the best place for the children to play . . . now they're only allowed out there when it's just children."

Jones, who grew up in Brookhaven and attended Chester High School with Green, said drug dealers enter the housing development by an alley that runs alongside the playground. In the last year, she has heard guns firing more and more often, she said.

After seven years at the Chester Apartments, Jones, who has three children, said she wants to move.

Jones's aunt, Neccy, who lives two doors down, said residents had been asking the management for better lighting to help ward off drug dealing.

Dealers are "hiding their drugs up in the gutter, hiding drugs in the laundry room," said Neccy Jones, 49, who has lived at the development for 11 years. "We don't need that around here. There's too many kids."

The housing development's manager did not respond to a request for comment.

Neighbors plan to hold a barbecue fund-raiser Tuesday beginning at noon for Green, who has two surviving sons.

Tate, 37, who was wounded by a stray bullet in 1996 and uses a wheelchair, said that neighbors would sell hot dogs and other food, and that they might hold other fund-raisers this week.

"Any donation - I don't care if it's just a quarter," he said.

Tate hopes to gather the residents together for a meeting while the memory of Terrence is fresh. He hopes they can come together to guard and protect a neighborhood where he has lived for eight years.

"When the heat falls off and it cools again, people will forget," he said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to contact the Chester police at 610-447-7813, the Delaware County Criminal Investigation division at 610-891-4700, or the Chester City Anonymous Tip Line at 610-447-7810.