Kristian Marche, a standout track and football athlete who graduated earlier this year from Imhotep Institute Charter High School in East Germantown, was to begin his freshman year this week at Pennsylvania State University, where he was given a track-and-field scholarship, authorities said Wednesday.
Police believe the 18-year-old was targeted when he was shot in the head while in the rear driveway of his West Oak Lane home about 9:35 p.m. Monday.
"Kristian clearly was an exceptionally talented young man with a very promising future that was violently cut short," Homicide Lt. Norman Davenport told reporters at a news conference Wednesday, asking for the public's help.
"We're not simply asking people to come forward with any information, we're asking parents to be proactive," Davenport said. "Parents whose students attended Imhotep Charter High School, parents whose children ran track with Kristian, parents whose children live in the neighborhood, to sit down with your children and ask your children if they have any information on this homicide. This is a job that needs to be solved."
Police "have no idea what the motive is" behind the shooting and have not identified a suspect, he said.
Davenport said it was not yet known if anyone else besides the shooter and Marche was in the driveway of Marche's home on the 1800 block of East Pastorius Street at the time of the shooting. Multiple shots had been heard, he said, but it was not clear how many shots were fired. The gun was not recovered and there was no ballistics evidence on the ground, he said.
Marche, who was taken to Einstein Medical Center, was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. Tuesday.
Diamond Woolford, 38, Marche's personal coach since last fall and a coach at Girard College, said Wednesday that he first heard about Marche's shooting death from other youths, then tried to reach Marche's mother by phone, but instead spoke to Marche's aunt.
Woolford said he heard that Marche had some kind of "beef" or argument that he was trying to settle before heading off to college.
"Whoever it was, they still felt the need to go forward and do what they did," said Woolford.
"You got a kid that was actually trying to remove himself from this negativity, and they seemed to want to bring him back into it."
"He definitely was a very smart kid, and had just so much potential in this sport," said Woolford, adding that Marche "could have reached some crazy places with this sport. It just sucks that this happened."
Isaiah Leonard, 18, a friend of Marche's since 2015 who attended Motivation High School and ran track at the West Philadelphia school, said Wednesday that at track events, Marche was a focused runner who zoned out to songs by Meek Mill — his favorite — before races.
Marche "always had good vibes," Leonard said.
On Tuesday night, the news "blew up on social media," and his death "hit all of us hard," he said.
"Nobody expected this," Leonard said. "A lot of people were just recently talking to him. Everybody knew he was about to go to school. When it happened … everybody was just shocked, they didn't know what to say."
People called Marche one of the fastest high-school runners in the state, said Leonard, of Southwest Philadelphia.
"I'm upset that it happened, but … it's just becoming a thing where everybody's getting shot and killed," Leonard said. "This is my eighth friend that has died in the last three years, seven to a gun. It's a bad thing, but I'm getting used to it, even though I shouldn't be."
Andre Noble, Imhotep's athletic director, on Wednesday remembered Marche as a "very respectful young man."
"It's sad to lose one of our sons," he said. "It's tragic what had happened."
He said Marche ran track at Imhotep all four of his high school years up until his June graduation. Marche also played football and was a running back from his sophomore through senior years, but track was his main sport, Noble said.
The school is thinking of ways to keep Marche's "memory and name alive here," Noble said. There will be grieving and counseling services for students, he said.
Eric Tyler, 30, a former track coach at Imhotep, said he had coached Marche during his freshman year.
"When Kristian came in as a freshman, he was quiet, very, very quiet," said Tyler, who has since moved to Greensboro, N.C., and is Davenport's son. "I noticed he had a lot of fight in him."
Since his first day of practice, Marche wanted to be with the fast runners, Tyler said. "From that day on, I knew he would be a phenomenal athlete."
"He respected me as his coach, and I respected him as a student athlete," said Tyler, who said he had gotten to know Marche's family during his time coaching at Imhotep. Tyler said his father did not personally know Marche's family.
In a tweet Tuesday morning, Imhotep football coach Nick Lincoln wrote: "My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Kristian Marche. May they be comforted and strengthened in this time of sorrow."
Davenport said Marche was planning to head to Penn State on Tuesday, the day he died.
In a statement, Sandy Barbour, Penn State's director of athletics, said: "Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Kristian Marche's family, friends, and teammates. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy; another young person taken from his loved ones far too early. Our thoughts are with Kristian's family and friends; we will do what we can to support them and our track and field students and staff during this very difficult time."
Jeff Nelson, Penn State's associate athletic director, said Wednesday that Marche was to attend the university on a partial track-and-field scholarship. Classes at the university begin Monday. Most of the freshmen are arriving at the State College campus this week, he said.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Philadelphia police homicide unit at 215-686-3334. As with any homicide, there is a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.