Pray for Philadelphia: Six Homicides in 35 Hours

DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer

Eula Hodge, grandmother of shooting victim Christian Massey, speaks about him in their home. Above her is a photo of Massey from his days at Marple Newtown.

At 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing 305 pounds, Christian Massey towered over his brother, his grandmother, and most of the neighbors on Felton Street.

But those who knew him described him as a gentle giant, a reserved boy who took his tough upbringing in stride, earning high grades and planning for college.

In foster care for most of his teenage years, Massey, 21, attended Marple Newtown High School - where he played football and basketball - and used weekend passes from his group home to visit his family in West Philadelphia.

"He was as sweet as he could be," said his grandmother Eula Hodge.

Upon graduation in 2011, he moved in with Hodge in her house on Felton Street. On Thursday, he ate Thanksgiving dinner there. On Black Friday he went shopping. An electronics enthusiast, he traded in an old pair of Beats by Dre headphones for the newest model, which retails between $200 and $450.

On Saturday evening, as Massey walked through West Philadelphia's Overbrook neighborhood to meet friends, those headphones apparently caught the eye of a would-be robber.

When Massey refused to hand them over, his assailant shot him in an alley off Lebanon Avenue. He was conscious when police found him - and was able to tell officers about the attempted robbery. But he died a half-hour later at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, police said.

Massey's slaying was one of six homicides over a 36-hour period that began Saturday morning and ended Monday morning.

Through Sunday, police had recorded 225 homicides in Philadelphia so far this year, according to statistics on the Police Department's website. At the same time last year, the death toll stood at 306.


SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer - Aubrey Whelan

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