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Saturday, 25 April 2009

27th Street Gang often clashes with the 31st Street Gang."They were just walking home, walking down the street,"

Harvey Lewis, 15, a cadet with the police Explorers program, and his friend Dominque Smith, 18, both of South Philadelphia, each suffered a gunshot wound to the back of the head as they walked home from a friend's house.Police say they believe three assailants, possibly in their teens, ran up behind Lewis and Smith on 26th Street near Morris Street and shot them. Several 9mm casings and a 9mm gun were recovered there."They were just walking home, walking down the street," Homicide Capt. James Clark said yesterday. "We believe somebody in the neighborhood knows who did this. . . . We really need the public's help finding the people who killed these two very innocent people."
Neither Lewis nor Smith had a criminal history or was involved in activities that would make him a likely victim, police have said. Clark, who has called the victims "good kids," said detectives had ruled out robbery as a motive.The task force will be made up of investigators from homicide, patrol, South Detectives, and the Criminal Intelligence Unit.Lewis' mother, Arleen Weston, and Smith's mother, Sharon Smith, said this week that their children likely had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.The neighborhood is well-known for slayings among teens from rival blocks. The 27th Street Gang often clashes with the 31st Street Gang. Relatives said Lewis and Smith had not been part of that.
Bishop James Darrell Robinson of Yesha Ministries Worship Center, 2301 Snyder Ave., has been counseling the two families."Last thing I heard was that the culprits approached and realized it was the wrong people, but one of them said, 'Shoot them anyway,' " Robinson said of reports circulating in the neighborhood.He also decried the pervasive "no snitch" culture, saying: "The biggest fight we have is really against the mentality. We definitely need the public's help, and hopefully someone will come forward."Detectives have not been able to find witnesses who heard what the gunmen said or could give a detailed description of them, Clark said. The task force is checking all surveillance cameras in the area with recordings from that night.Both mothers said their sons desperately had wanted to get away from the violence in the neighborhood.Services for Lewis and Smith will be held together Monday at Yesha Ministries Worship Center. Friends may call from 9 to 10:45 a.m., with the funeral service at 11 and burial to follow. Officials said the families were trying to make arrangements for the two friends to be buried next to each other.


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