Moral Low Ground


Innocent Bystander Bernard Jamal Scott, 17, Fatally Shot During West Philadelphia Playground Brawl

April 14, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in Crime & Punishment with 1 Comment

Bernard Jamal ScottA popular student at a Philadelphia high school died after being shot by a gunman who opened fire during a playground fight.

Bernard Jamal Scott, known to his classmates as BJ, wasn’t involved in the Thursday afternoon altercation at Tustin Playground in the city’s Overbrook neighborhood. The 17-year-old was one of many bystanders from nearby Overbrook High School who flocked to the playground to watch the fight.

“Everybody was following to watch a fight,” a school staff member told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “They tweet each other, they get on Instagram– fight, fight, fight.”

Around 50 spectators had gathered at the playground when the fight took a deadly turn. When one of the fighters began to lose, two gunmen suddenly pulled pistols. Shots were fired into the crowd; three people were hit, including one of the suspected gunmen. Scott was struck in the stomach.

Local business owner Antoine Gardiner was sitting in his truck at a red light at the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and North 59th Street when he heard three gunshots fired in rapid succession. He then noticed Scott “hunched over all by himself.” Gardiner put the seriously injured boy in the back of his truck and rushed toward the nearest hospital.

“Hold on, young buck, hold on, young fellow,” Gardiner told the teen. “Just hold on, you’re going to be OK, just hold on, keep breathing.”

Gardiner told the Inquirer that Scott couldn’t respond. He was groaning loudly, breathing heavily and choking on blood as they arrived at Lankenau Medical Center, a little more than a mile from the site of the shooting. Scott died five hours later.

A 20-year-old man, Jaquan Jordan, was taken into police custody for questioning about the shooting. Jordan was identified as the shooter by Sharletta Ambey, who was driving by the playground with her grandson when she saw the fight about to break out.

“They were all just hyped up, screaming and yelling,” Ambey told the Inquirer. “[Jordan] lifted his hand up and pulled out a gun and began to fire,” she said, adding that he wasn’t aiming the weapon but “just holding the gun and letting it go into the crowd.”

Ambey said she got out of her car and tried to grab the gunman, but he fled up Lancaster Avenue. She then got back in her car and followed him.

“You might as well stop and turn yourself in,” she reportedly shouted at Jordan from her car. “I saw what you did.”

“He told me I need to mind my business before I get shot,” Ambey told the Inquirer. After the suspect ran into a house on 60th Street, Ambey pointed him out to police, who later recovered a .22 caliber revolver and five spent shell casings.

Police are also questioning 18-year-old Stanley Postell, who is hospitalized after being grazed in the back during the shooting incident. Witnesses have identified Postell as one of the gunmen.

A 17-year-old boy was also hospitalized after being shot in the buttocks during the incident. Neither that teen nor either of the two suspected gunmen attend Overbrook.

Scott was described as a popular sophomore. He was enrolled in Overbrook’s JROTC program and wanted to be a video game designer when he grew up. Friends said he was quick to lend a helping hand with school work. He was involved in his first serious romantic relationship.

His mother, Darshell Scott, told NBC 10 that she wanted Scott out of the Philadelphia school system.

“He was struggling. With the schools he was attending, I didn’t believe they were actually trying to help him,” she said.

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One Comment

  1. robertApril 15, 2013 at 4:25 amReply

    Sad. But at the same time, if you go chasing after a fight like it’s a spectator sport, you are reveling in violence and be not surprised that violnce begets more violence. Really sad.

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