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03-16-2005, 12:39 AM
Mar 15, 2005 11:00 pm US/Eastern
PHILADELPHIA (KYW) Police and prosecutors concerned with a spate of killings in the city begged the public Monday for more help identifying murderers.

District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham vowed that her office will protect witnesses, even if it means sending a moving van to their home to take them to safety the day they come forward.

“We cannot only move you out of the city, we can move you out of the state; we can move you across the country,” Abraham said.

Within the past eight days there have been 21 homicides in Philadelphia, including three in the late-night and early morning hours after the prosecutor made her appeal Monday.

Now, CBS 3’s Walt Hunter reports that Mayor Street said under certain circumstances he would consider help from the Pennsylvania State Police and even the National Guard.

Street has declared the violence throughout the city a crisis and as a result has ordered the full review of police department policies and has suggested a full moratorium on the issuing of gun permits.

In addition, Street has requested a meeting with Governor Ed Rendell to talk about possible new gun legislation.

A 44-year-old man was found shot in his home early Tuesday morning. A 22-year-old man was shot several times in the street late Monday in a killing police believe was drug related. A 21-year-old man was shot during an argument.

The deaths brought Philadelphia’s 2005 murder total to 76, up from 66 at the same point a year ago, police said.
Homicide Capt. Richard Ross said police have had to solve most of the crimes without the public’s help.

“We’d like to see it come from cooperation from the public and not just from excellent police work,” Ross said. “We’d like to see a combination of the two.”

Law enforcement officials have been on a campaign to persuade city residents to cooperate more with police since last year’s killing of Faheem Thomas-Childs, a 10-year-old boy struck by a stray bullet outside at his North Philadelphia school. The shooting happened in front of dozens of people, but few witnesses have spoken up.
“We know that people know who killed Faheem Thomas-Childs. We know that people know. We need them to come forward,” Abraham said. Nearly all progress made in that investigation has come from the work of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not from the public, she said.

Abraham would not discuss the case of Felix Summers, a 24-year-old man accused by federal authorities of killing off a string of witnesses who were to testify against him in as many as four murders. Summers, who has not been accused in any of the current cases, was acquitted in two homicide trials and a jury deadlocked in another trial last week. His lawyer says he had nothing to do with the witnesses’ deaths and was being persecuted by overzealous prosecutors.

Ross said he was especially unnerved by Saturday night’s slaying of 9-year-old Walter DeJesus, who was shot dead outside the corner store his father runs in North Philadelphia. He said police had “virtually no information” about that death and described going to the scene Saturday night, right after he had gotten home from investigating other killings.
“My daughter, who’s the same age, asked me, ‘Daddy, where are you going?”’ Ross said. “All I could say was, ‘A little boy your age got hurt.”’