Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone received a phone call early Saturday morning that he said “made his heart stop.” A Temple student had been shot.
A 22-year-old undergraduate student was shot in the left hip outside of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity house on the 1500 block of North 17th Street around 1 a.m. Saturday. The student was transported to Hahnemann University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and has since been released, Leone said.
A TU Alert was distributed to students around 1:30 am alerting them to avoid the area.
Leone said an attempted robbery occurred after the shooter was denied access to the party occurring inside of the fraternity house on the grounds that he was not a university student. There was one witness to the incident.
After being told he could not go inside, the shooter then pulled up his shirt to reveal a silver gun tucked into his waistband. He demanded that the witness and victim give him “everything they got,” Leone said. The victim then rushed toward the offender and a shot was fired. Nothing was stolen.
“While everyone was like, ‘Oh my God,’ that’s when the guy left,” said sophomore history major Sarah Devine, who was inside of the fraternity house at the time of the shooting. “He left as people were reacting.”
“I went downstairs to get another drink and this guy was like, ‘Stay upstairs, someone got shot – stay the f— upstairs,’” she said.
Devine and other non-fraternity members were soon asked to go home.
“We are trying to speculate why this guy picked them,” Leone said. “Did he think they were collecting money there at the door? I don’t know – it’s hard to say.”
Leone explained that police have been given a variety of subject descriptions. Ray Betzner, a university spokesman, said the suspect is believed to be a 35- to 40-year-old African-American male about 5-foot-9 inches with a thin build and no facial hair. He was last seen wearing jeans, a red hooded sweatshirt and a red beanie hat. A TU Alert originally described the suspect as being 21-26 years old.
Leone said police were able to gather more information in the area that day to produce the updated suspect profile.
“There was only one witness and they were both shaken up – people are always in shock when something like this happens,” Leone said in explanation for the discrepancies.
Philadelphia police are currently leading the investigation with help from Temple Police. The university has dispatched a team of detectives to the area to work with two Philadelphia detectives from the Special Investigations Unit, Leone said. He said the additional bike patrols, which began this semester with the expansion of the patrol border around Main Campus, have also been sent to the scene.
Authorities are currently trying to obtain security camera footage from a business about a block away, and are looking to see if there are any other cameras in the area that could potentially aid in the investigation, Leone said.
“We really want to catch this guy because he can’t do this to our students,” he said flatly.
Looking toward the future, Leone expressed a desire for the university to work with the city to add extra levels of security to the area, including additional blue light emergency phones. It is also his hope that the phones will by equipped with security cameras.
“When you go down towards Oxford and Jefferson [streets], it’s just a lot of street lighting and we want to maybe work with the landlords to get additional lights,” he added.
Devine, who labels herself as “anti-gun,” was baffled that someone would show up to a party armed with a weapon.
“I know that crime happens around here but I have never really seen it,” she said. “None of my friends have ever really been a part of that. So then to be at a party where someone could have died – it’s horrifying.”
In light of the shooting, Leone urged all students to take advantage of university escort services like the TUr door and Owl Loop shuttle services and walking escort programs. He said students must be “alert and aware.”
“It’s scary, it’s a little nerve wracking and we certainly don’t want this to happen to anyone,” Leone said.
“More so than anything else, I mean, that kid was at a party and got shot,” Devine added. “It’s a shame and it’s really scary that people think that way and think that that behavior is acceptable.”
The last gun-related incident involving a student occurred in February near “The Let Out” venue near 16th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue when a student was grazed by a stray bullet.
The brothers of Pi Lambda Phi were not available for comment.
Anyone with further information regarding the incident is urged to call 911.
Cindy Stansbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org