Crackup on Lex Street

It was the biggest mass killing in the city's history. But that doesn't begin to tell the story of what happened that night in West Philadelphia.

By Solomon Jones
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 15 | Posted Feb. 14, 2001

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Among Long's childhood friends was George Porter, whom he met when they were seven or eight. A few years later, both boys befriended CJ Helton, who'd moved back to the projects with his mother.

They all went to the same elementary school.

Across the street from the house where the murders took place, Martha Washington School was where the neighborhood children bonded.

Shawn Crews--the dealer who met with the four alleged gunmen just minutes before the Lex Street shootings--went to school there with Guy Long's older sister.

They did what most children do. They played sports, fought with each other, went to the movies.

"And fixed bikes," Andrea Watson says. "They could take a bike apart and put it together from scratch."

"We grew up like regular little kids," says Randolph Henry, 19, an aspiring rapper who spent his childhood in the projects with Porter, Helton and Long. "We just had that shit around us and it never went nowhere."

Some members of Helton's immediate family were drug users. At least one is now in recovery. Conyers says her son CJ didn't remember the drug use much. "If he was affected," she says, "he never showed me."

Guy Long's aunt, Yvette Long, and at least two other family members who asked not to be named, were addicted to crack.

Conyers and Watson say they did all they could to keep their children away from the drugs. For a time, it seemed to work.

Seated in her kitchen just weeks after her son's death, Andrea Watson vacillates between laughter and grief as she recalls her son's glib sense of humor and love for childhood games.

"They were all on the same baseball team," she says. "It was Maurice, CJ, Stunt, the little boy who lived around the corner. It was a crew, and they all played baseball, football or basketball."

One of Guy Long's trophies on his mother's mantelpiece is topped with a metallic baseball player poised to swing at a pitch.

"If he woulda continued on that road," she says, "it woulda probably been more trophies than that."

But as Guy Long and his friends moved away from sports and toward the streets, their lives changed.

"If you not playing some type of sport and you not good in school," says Randolph Henry, the aspiring rapper, "you gonna start dibblin' and dabblin'."

Guy Long's life with drugs began the way it ended--with a blunt.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 15 of 15
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1. kimmi64 said... on Sep 3, 2008 at 12:22PM

“i could have been there too. i just happen to be at kirkbride rehab center in west philly at the time, not too far from the bottoms. i was that caught out, crack addict,hiv having prostitute that hung out at crack houses like that across the city. to think yhat i could have been laid out on that floor with the rest of them makes me feel unimagineably wonderful, being saved from that horrible death. whew”

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2. adeena said... on Dec 16, 2008 at 07:58AM

“as salaamu alaikum! masha'allah 4 the lives that weren't taken. Alhamdulillah”

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3. none yah said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 09:34AM

“yall dont know nothing about nothing...... ”

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4. Anonymous said... on Apr 28, 2009 at 02:19AM

“It is a damn shame those people lost their lives. I grew up playing ball at the Creek, playing football across from Sorrows and Sis Clara Mohammed, eating at Dwights and it makes me wanna cry for the families that lost loved ones. I've been to Iraq and Korea twice and its a damn shame that my neighborhood is still is disarray.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Jul 13, 2009 at 10:45PM

“There will be a movie about this compelling story sometime next year, and I guarantee the City of Philadelphia is gonna have a question or two to answer. It was indeed a shame that four young men were wrongfully accused, which leads me to believe they just strong-armed and chose those who allegedly "confessed" to the killings.

Tragic.”

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6. kishia hanible said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 01:43AM

“i have read the book watch the dvd listen to the case the youngest one that got killed was my cuzin sam i don't know what went down that night but who ever did the shit will pay rather it be in life or death they will pay and i tell you their is no system that can do what god won't do and beleave me they will suffer....r.i.p to all of them.”

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7. Steve Wright said... on Jul 24, 2011 at 10:42PM

“I left Philly in 1979 for the service to get far away from the violents in the Mill Creek section of town. I returned for a visit to family and friends in June 2011 and in hope to see that this city has improved over the years. Philly is basically the same as I left it which is a shame, When I was growing up there it was alot of shooting and killing like it is now. Growing up on June Street between Parrish and Brown I feelsf or those who lost there life on Lex St. Rest in peace Petey I remember many games of basketball we played at the courts of Mill Creek playground. R.I.P. Petey”

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8. Anonymous said... on Sep 11, 2011 at 04:39PM

“IT SADINS ME TO KNOW I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH A LOT OF THE PPL OF LEX ST... PPL PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP THE VILOENCE THE ELDERLY ARE OUT LIVING THE YOUNG. IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL.......SIMPLY CRAZY!!! WHATS HAPPEN TO LETS SHAKE & MAKE UP!!!!”

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9. Anonymous said... on Jan 17, 2012 at 04:06PM

“SOMETHING JUST TOLD ME TO LOOK UP THIS CRIME.. AND ITS CRAZY HOW IT HAS BEEN TEN YRS AND THINGS HAVENT GOTTEN ANY BETTER..... LIKE SERIOUSLY THE YOUNGEST PERSON WOULD HAVE ONLY BEEN 25 LIKE MYSELF. WE WENT TO JAMES RHODES TOGETHER... PPL STOP KILLING OUR FUTURE OFF.. YALL DONT UNDERSTAND THAT, THAT IS WHAT IS GOING ON....”

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10. sexylady46 said... on Jan 21, 2012 at 08:43PM

“This sad that these seven ppl was killed over a fucking car”

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11. DownthewayJ said... on May 24, 2012 at 09:09PM

“Grew up in west Philly. Lived on Lancaster Ave. Shame how we continue to kill each other. When will we learn? As-salaamu-alaikum”

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12. mike war said... on Jul 20, 2012 at 07:51AM

“R.I.P JIG

46 street for life! all was senseless

r.i.p buzzy”

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13. ryan said... on Aug 31, 2012 at 12:25PM

“He said, 'This is a press conference, not a community meeting,'" Long recalls. "How can you say that as the mayor. you elected that clown and look where it got you. black people dont get the big picture thats why when you walk into a prison its made up of 65percent blacks. i recall abraham lincoln freed the slaves and yet you vote for democrats the blacks. because they want free money!”

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14. Anonymous said... on Dec 4, 2013 at 06:34PM

“this story needs to be updated. at least 4 other men were charged. the 1st 4 were aquitted.”

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15. Chuck said... on Oct 22, 2014 at 07:48PM

“This is a crazy senseless world we live in.I knew all of them the were my yong boys may god bless them and bless those who don't know no better.LOVE AND PEACE.46FOREVER.”

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