Friday, August 05, 2011

Gunmen Open Fire at SEPTA Bus in Philadelphia - On Camera

Four Charged in Bus Shooting

AS THE SEPTA BUS pulled up to 7th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philly, two men in white T-shirts rushed up to the open back door, one whipping out a long rifle from his pants and the other holding a pistol.

A dramatic video from one of seven cameras on the Route 47 bus, shown in a packed Philadelphia courtroom yesterday, caught the horrifying image of the men, weapons drawn.

After the door closed, another camera captured the smoke from the bullets fired into the bus - streams of vapor jetting from one side of the bus to the other.

Lafenus Pickett, who had been sitting in the back of the bus, told a Municipal judge that "five or six" people were outside the bus, two with guns. One had an "automatic rifle, the other a handgun," he said.

Just before the shooting, about 5:50 p.m. June 18, as the bus was traveling north on 7th, Pickett said, he began arguing with a woman who boarded the bus with a toddler.

"She was spanking her son for something he did," Pickett testified, speaking of Penny Chapman, 20, one of six defendants at yesterday's preliminary hearing.

"I said, 'That's child abuse.' "

Pickett said he then saw Chapman talk on her cellphone. When the bus stopped and Chapman got off with the boy, she said to a man outside: " 'Shoot that n-----,' " Pickett testified.

"I stood up, I was froze for a minute, but then I saw them actually shooting," said Pickett, who scrambled over a railing to run to the front of the bus before bullets flew. Video clips showed other frightened passengers also rushing to the front of the bus, or ducking in the rear. An elderly woman appeared dazed as she stood in the middle of the bus, then crawled beneath a seat just as shots were fired.

Luckily, none of the 10 passengers or the driver was hit. The driver, Desmond Jones, quickly drove off, bringing the passengers to Temple University Hospital.

Officer Joe Goodwin, who works in the 26th Police District, where the shooting occurred, testified that he was familiar with the people outside the bus that day who were defendants in the courtroom. He identified defendant Karon Patterson, 19, as the man with the rifle, and his cousin Raheen Patterson, 22, as the one with the gun.

Goodwin identified Angel Lecourt, 18, as the man who went up to the bus before the shooting and held the rear door open for Chapman and her son, who is Lecourt's nephew, as they got off.

Also outside was Dimetrius Patterson; she is a fugitive in this case, Goodwin said.

Judge James DeLeon held Chapman, Karon Patterson, Raheen Patterson and Lecourt for trial on all charges, including attempted murder and conspiracy.

But he agreed with defense attorneys David Nenner and Joseph Green II that their clients, Lawrence Rahyle, 18, and Keith Bellamy, 23, respectively, had just been standing outside the bus and had not been involved in the shooting. When the judge dismissed all charges against the two, people in the audience applauded loudly.

Afterward, prosecutor Morgan Model Vedejs refiled charges against the two, and another preliminary hearing was set for Oct. 24 in Common Pleas Court.