Police share new details on homicide cases following violent weekend in Philly

Philadelphia police on Tuesday released new details about a spate of homicides that occurred over the holiday weekend, an especially violent stretch in which 55 people were shot, 10 fatally, from Thursday through Sunday.

Homicide Capt. Jason Smith shared information on some of the weekend killings of people of all ages and walks of life, including a Montgomery County teen and a man experiencing homelessness, as the city’s unrelenting gun violence crisis continues. Smith also gave an update on suspects accused of fatally shooting a police officer’s son earlier this year.

No arrests have been made in the weekend cases Smith highlighted.

During a news conference at police headquarters, Smith shed light on the puzzling and tragic backgrounds of the cases.

» READ MORE: A Mayfair man shot and killed an attacker who tried to rob him while posing as a cop, police say

There was the April 16 death of Marquan Kellam in the 5600 block of Newtown Avenue in the Northeast. Smith said investigators found Kellam, 26, around 1:40 pm, his body under a blanket next to railroad tracks. He was shot multiple times, Smith said, and had $3,500 in his pocket.

Investigators thought Kellam had been tortured because there were multiple cuts on his calves, thighs, and legs, but Smith said the cuts were made after he died. Bleach had been poured over his body, Smith said, likely to destroy evidence.

“What we have not been able to determine is whether he was killed there or killed someplace else and dumped there. Also undetermined is the motive for the murder,” Smith said, noting the victim had no criminal record and the large sum of cash, which likely rules out a robbery.

Early the next morning, the city’s twin crises of guns and opioids collided when police and paramedics found Carlos Montalban unresponsive around 4:15 on the sidewalk on the 300 block of East Ontario Street in Kensington

They treated Montalban with Narcan, a medication used to revive people who have overdosed on opioids, and transported him to Temple University Hospital, where doctors found he’d suffered a gunshot to the lower back, Smith said.

Montalban, 39, who was experiencing homelessness, died at the hospital.

“This is a tragic case, it’s sad. But it’s not the first time this has happened,” Smith said of first responders mistakenly thinking gunshot victims had overdosed.

A city camera captured Montalban walking but panned away and missed the shooting, Smith said.

Later that day, around 3:20 pm, police responded to the 3100 block of Berkeley Drive in East Falls and found two teens suffering from gunshot wounds after what Smith said is suspected to be an illegal gun sale gone wrong.

Smith said 17-year-old Theodore Crawford from Hatfield in Montgomery County was fatally shot, and an 18-year-old was wounded, after gunmen fired into a Lexus both young men were sitting in. At the scene, Smith said, police found three guns in the car — two ghost guns in a backpack carried by Crawford — and a stolen Smith & Wesson.

He said the wounded victim has said they were planning to meet a girl when they were attacked, but investigators believe they were planning to sell the firearms.

Less than two hours later, police said, Khyir Abney, 22, was fatally shot on the 2100 block of South Opal Street in the West Passyunk section of the city. Smith said three men in hoodies jumped out of a dark gray Mazda and fatally shot Abney and wounded a 28-year-old man.

Smith said that Abney had no arrest record and that the wounded 28-year-old was the likely target in what investigators believe was gang-related violence.

Smith also shared new information in the January shooting of Hyram Hill, the son of a city police officer. Smith said Hill, 23, was the victim of a random robbery, replacing an earlier police theory that he may have been targeted and followed from the club where he worked part time as a bouncer.

New video of the crime showed two gunmen emerging from a stolen Kia Sportage, then shoot Hill after attempting to rob him, Smith said. They stole his phone and his legally registered gun, Smith said.

Smith disclosed that police had interacted with the two gunmen after responding to a domestic-violence call just 15 minutes before Hill’s death. The interaction with one of the suspects was captured on the officer’s body camera, but officers did not ask for his name, he said.

As of Tuesday morning, 141 people have been slain in homicides in Philadelphia, police statistics show, a slight decrease compared with last year’s record-setting pace, but well above the year-to-date total in much of the city’s recent history. An additional 500 people have been wounded in shootings so far this year, the statistics show.

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