Mom of suspect in shooting at hookah lounge near Temple University says her son is innocent

"I think the security officer is trying to cover his behind and blame everything on my son," the suspect's mother said.
Monday, March 20, 2023
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has identified and charged a man following a shooting that injured multiple people outside a hookah lounge near Temple University's campus.

Eryk Leach-Gilliam, 23, is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly engendering another person and other related crimes.

But his mother said he didn't do anything wrong.

"People think my son did it and he's an innocent person. He's a good kid," said Diane Leach, who was at the hookah lounge when the shooting started.

The shooting happened before 3 a.m. Sunday outside of Hubble Bubble Hookah Lounge on the 1000 block of Diamond Street.

The lounge is underneath an off-campus apartment building and across the street from the football team's practice facility.

Officials said Leach-Gilliam allegedly pulled out a firearm and held it upwards. In response, the armed security guard fired multiple times at the suspect.

SEE ALSO: Crime data: How safe are students when they step off campus in Philadelphia?

Leach-Gilliam then allegedly fired back toward the lounge. The security guard was not struck, but three women inside the lounge were shot.

"It was chaotic. Everyone screaming everyone trying to jump over top of each other," said Leach. "There was people on the ground, people screaming."

Police say all three are in stable condition, and none were students at Temple University.

The victims range in age from 19 to 47 years old.

Leach said her son fired in self-defense because the security guard started shooting.

"The security guard is shooting at us and everybody that's outside and they said my son returned fire," Leach said. "I think the security officer is trying to cover his behind and blame everything on my son."

The security guard is not charged with anything. Owners of the hookah bar would not comment on the situation.

"Our parents and our friends they contact us and they're like, 'Are you ok?' and we're like 'Yeah, it's just another day,'" noted Mara Tannenbaum, a junior at Temple.

The university says both Temple and Philadelphia police responded to the gunfire.

"I heard it when I woke up this morning, but like, I don't know. I've never really felt unsafe on campus before," said Aldrich Solomon, a senior who lives in Apex on Diamond, the apartment building where the shooting occurred.

This is the latest shooting in a string of violent crimes on or around campus.

On Friday afternoon, police arrested someone who brought a loaded gun into Morgan Hall.

On Thursday night, a 25-year-old was critically injured in a stabbing on 12th and Diamond streets.

RELATED: Check the 6abc Neighborhood Safety Tracker

In February, Temple police officer Christopher Fitzgerald was killed while patrolling the neighborhood around campus.

"My mom's always sending the Keep Us Safe TU posts and is like, 'What are we going to do? Can you transfer?' And I'm like, 'We're just already so far in, and I really like the friends I've made here,'" said Jaimie Harley, a sophomore. "And it just sucks we have to walk around feeling unsafe all the time."
As Temple's community deals with crime, the faculty union is considering a no-confidence vote in university leadership, including President Jason Wingard.

"It's just such a violent city and I don't know if really the leadership has much to do with it. If another person was in President Wingard's position, what else could you possibly do?" said Colby Duffy, a junior.

"Is this safe for me here? And I love Temple and I love going to school here but it's not worth dying you know? Or getting shot," said Natalie Green, a sophomore.

In response to this latest act of violence, the Temple University Police Association released the following statement on Twitter.

The Action News Investigative Team dug into crime data in the city of Philadelphia to find out just how safe college students are when they step off campus. You can read more about our findings here.
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