“They’re chasing the flash mobs out of Center City and right into the neighborhoods,” says LaVelle. “Sixty five white kids beat up a black kid, there would be a cop stationed outside his house.”
Frustrated, LaVelle says he called three local television news stations hoping coverage would help keep him safe, but they all told him that they were short-staffed and anyway, it was 9/11.
For now, the family is hiding out. “I can’t stay here. I haven’t been to work. I need to look out for my family.”
Fast forward to the early hours of Sunday morning and shift a few blocks to Glavin Park. Locals call the concrete slab of basketball courts and swings bordered on one side by Mercer Street “the A&W.”
Residents say that sometime after midnight a confused melee broke out after a “beer party” got out of control. Some of the people involved—mostly kids, they say—had guns and knives.
By sunrise, rumors swirled that a few boys had been stabbed and a young man was shot by police after flashing a gun at an officer.
Michael Saier, 62, is a fourth-generation Port Richmond resident who has lived in a house near the A&W his entire life. “We were here before it was a playground,” says Saier. “I’ll be honest with you, I preferred when it was a factory.”
Michael’s wife, 64-year-old Jackie Saier bursts into tears when she recalls what went down last night.
“It’s very upsetting for me,” she says.
“I was asleep already and it woke me up,” says Saier. When they walked out their front door, they saw about 70 kids scattered in the playground, down Mercer Street, everywhere. “They were all checking their cell phones,” says Saier.
Someone shouted something about getting stabbed.
Then: two gun shots.
PPD spokesman Lt. Ray Evers confirmed that at 1:15 am., police responded to a “large fight disturbance,” and that 38-year-old Alfred Cruttenden drove up and “pulled a revolver from his waistband and starts waving it.” Evers said that after Cruttenden refused orders to drop his weapon, police shot him once in the stomach and once in the leg. He is in stable condition.
Neighborhood rumors say the armed assailant pointed a gun right at a cop and said, “Fuck you.”
The Saierses say that as soon as the mob cleared off the street, about 30 more gathered in their wake. They watched as one kid brazenly sauntered down the cop-infested street with a gun visibly stuffed into the back of his pants.
Back in Campbell Square on Sunday afternoon, adults are abuzz about the weekend’s violence as a bunch of kids hang on the tables slurping soda. The adults don’t recognize the loud group as neighborhood kids. A little girl in a pink dress traces one of the pentagrams with her fingertips. Stroller wheels crunch over broken glass.
A Mister Softee truck pulls up to one side of the park, and a bunch of guys are hanging out on the other. Trombetta spots fresh stitches lacing up a slit in the back of one kid’s neck. He looks about 18, maybe 19 years old. When asked about what went down this weekend, he freezes up, turns around and leaves the park. All his friends follow him.
As expected, more residents and city officials than usual showed up at Port Richmond’s town-hall meeting this week to discuss recent violent incidents that have terrorized the neighborhood.