Police say the victim was 22-year-old Mamadou Makadji, a native of West Africa.
They say Makadji was sitting with friends on a park bench when a gunman approached and demanded money. They say the victim apparently didn't understand what was going on because of a language barrier.
The gunman began screaming at him, pistol-whipped him over the head, and then shot Makadji in the chest.
The gunman fled.
Makadji had been in the United States just three months, and his family and friends say he came to Philadelphia on a quest for the American dream.
"They just killed him," said family friend Ada Diawara, struggling to speak through her tears.
Seck Amadou, a close friend of the victim, was one of the two others there when it happened.
Amadou says when the gunman shot his friend, he and the other man simply ran as fast as they could.
"He tried to shoot me and shoot my friend," Amadou said.
Makadji's parents in West Africa have been notified and they requested their son's body be quickly returned to Mali, his home country, for burial.
"The family is very shocked," said Mame Makadji, the victim's uncle.
Makadji was enrolled in an intensive English language program at Temple University. He planned on becoming a Temple student some time later.
No arrests have been made.
On Monday night, other immigrants from Mali gathered in Elmwood Park to pray for Makadji.
The tight knit community is now raising money to send Makadji's body back to Mali.
Maria Hakun may not share Makadji's heritage, language, or religion, but she lives in the area and felt compelled to help.
She says her church will try to donate what little it has.
"It's very pathetic. Our hearts grieve, we grieve for them. It could be our kids," Hakun said.
Relatives say it'll cost $8000 to send Makadji's body back to Mali. They now have roughly $6000.
If you would like to donate to help with the cost, visit the website for the Community of Mali Philadelphia