Two killed in playground shooting - Philadelphia news

MANTUA - September 12, 2008 The shooting happened Thursday night at the McAlpin Playground at 36th and Aspen in the Mantua section of Philadelphia.

The ceremony was for the Extra Miles Basketball League. The founder, Miles Mack, 42, was murdered as he stood center court handing out league championship trophies.

"He was passing out runner ups and I was passing out championship and the shooting started," said Murphy Applin of Extra Miles Basketball. "I couldn't believe it. Thought it was fire crackers and I looked, it wasn't fire crackers. He was laying down and bleeding."

Witnesses tell police two males wearing hoodies walked up, fired 17 rounds and fled.

Miles and Darren Hankins,19, a player from the runner-up team, were killed. Four people were wounded. All but one of the victims were shot in the back.

"Mr. Mack lost life trying to sponsor some constructive activity for young people. That's what makes this even more unfortunate," said Deputy Commissioner Rich Ross.

Police suspect the murdered teen may have been the target.

Miles family is saddened by the tragedy, and devastated that the father and hospital worker died while trying to help young people live well.

"He just wanted to help people," Mack's sister Tracey said. "These children were his life. He went to work, he came home, and he was with his children."

"I just hope my child didn't die in vain," said Mack's mother Sandra.

Miles founded the league with some friends. They put basketballs in young hands, gave them back packs stuffed with school supplies, and filled their heads with self-respect.

Calvin Johnson, 19, says the man he called "Big Pops" loved him like a father when his mother died, putting him on the court to keep him out of court.

"He's my inspiration. He's the reason I keep going on and on," Johnson said.

Miles' father worries about the young people who have come to depend on his son.

"I just hope somebody can step up and try to take his place or these kids are going to be in real trouble now," Michael Mack said.

People scattered when bullets fired. Now, police hope they'll call and share enough of what they saw to help capture the shooters.

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