Teen dies from shooting after snowball fight

February 26, 2008 4:31:13 AM PST
Police are investigating a senseless act of violence that has left a Philadelphia teen fighting for his life.

The victim, Tavin Rutledge, who was celebrating his 16th birthday Sunday, was rushed to Temple University Hospital in critical condition. He was placed on life support until 11:45 a.m. when the devices keeping him alive were turned off and he died shortly thereafter.

Investigators say a group of kids was having a snowball fight around 4:45 p.m Sunday at D and Rockland streets in Philadelphia's Feltonville section when the alleged gunman was accidentally hit in the face with a snowball. Sources say he told the victim he'd be back. A few minutes later he arrived and shot the 16-year-old in the face at point blank range.

Shortly after the shooting, SWAT team members stormed the alleged gunman's home. Sources say they found a large stash of marijuana and cash but the gunman was gone.

Luis Bayano, a neighborhood store owner, said Rutledge would often stop by for a cheesesteak. He said he heard the shot "I was at the counter at my store, I heard a 'Boom!' I went down. Because, you know, I thought the bullet went right through my window."

Friends and family gathered throughout the night. Those who knew the victim tell Action News off camera, the teen was good kid who doesn't deserve to die. Rutledge's family can't understand why an adult would have such a reaction to some birthday fun.

"You knock on the door and you talk to the parent," his aunt Renay Reeves told reporters Sunday night. "You do not have to kill him. You did not have to shoot him."

Friends and family have been leaving stuffed animals and other items at a makeshift memorial where he was shot.

The shooting has even seasoned detectives shaking their heads. Lt. Mel Williams told Action News, "This is senseless. We're talking about kids playing. And the adult should have better sense."

Police believe they know the identity of the shooter, but they are not yet releasing his name.