Police charge Drexel grad with murder after man killed near campus

Thursday, November 30, 2017
Police charge Drexel grad with murder
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Police charge Drexel grad with murder: Jim Gardner reports on Action News at 11 p.m., November 29, 2017

UNIVERSITY CITY (WPVI) -- A Drexel University grad has been arrested after intervening in an argument near Drexel University's campus and fatally shooting another man, police say.

Twenty-four-year-old Joseph Howanski has been charged with murder and related offenses.

Just after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, residents along the 3500 block of Lancaster Avenue woke up to the chilling screams of a woman.

"All of a sudden, I heard a younger voice screaming so I looked outside of my window to see her lying on top of the guy's body," Drexel senior Heidi Gspurning said.

Merlos Mukaj, 21, a Gloucester County Community College student from overseas, had been killed. His 22-year-old girlfriend, a Drexel student, was seen sobbing over his lifeless body.

Just minutes before, witnesses say the two were having a heated argument.

"The man was like face to face with this girl and the girl had her hands in her pocket and the only thing that I could hear the man saying was, "You're stupid, you're dumb, those were my friends." It sounded like a jealousy argument to me," senior Kylie Strong said.

Strong was on her way to work when she saw things take an unexpected turn.

"The man started to walk away and the stranger confronted the man, I'm assuming to have some words about how he spoke to the woman, but they got into a pushing argument. They put hands on each other. The guy with the gun backed up, pointed the gun at the guy, and fired three times," Strong said.

Philadelphia police said the victim was shot in the chest.

Gspurning watched in horror from her apartment window as the woman cradled her boyfriend's body.

"She was screaming. She wouldn't let go of him," Gspurning said.

Drexel University campus police arrived within minutes after hearing the gunshots and took the Howanski into custody.

Howanski is a resident from the 3800 block of Hamilton Street.

Action News is told that Howanski does have a permit to carry.

Mukaj was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Detectives say they did talk to the girl overnight, but she was intoxicated, so it was difficult to get some of the facts straight.

The investigation is ongoing.


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