Philly youth mentor among 6 victims mowed down by driver

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A community is reeling after a driver slammed into six people in North Philadelphia, including a youth outreach mentor who saw what was happening and tried to intervene.

George Gilmore, 31, works as a mentor with the Express Urself Urban Crisis Response Center, a program aimed at keeping kids out of trouble and doing constructive chores like cleaning up the neighborhood.

"The fact that he's not here now, the kids are out of a mentor," said Terry Starks, the director of the youth group.

Gilmore and Starks make sure their program sends a stark reminder to children of how crime and gun violence often contributes to the city's homicide rate.

"And we had to deal with murders down here so we stuck a casket in the middle of the poorest neighborhood, not to remind the people of the community, but to remind the shooter that you can be in that casket, too," Starks said.

Gilmore, a father of five, was cooking burgers for the kids on the grill when he heard an argument break out at 16th Street and Lehigh Avenue around 3:50 p.m. Tuesday. He went over to try and break it up.

"I was right here with him. I just turned my back - soon as I turned my back, all I could hear was the commotion behind me," colleague Fatima Martin said.

Gilmore was one of six people who were mowed down by a driver in a gray Buick Century while they were involved in an altercation with the suspect's brother.

"Next thing you know, our friend is laying on the ground with half of his face off him. Half his face off him," Martin said.

Gilmore suffered severe facial lacerations and was undergoing surgery for a fractured back.

"This guy came up a one way street, a one way street and just damaged so many people's lives in a matter of seconds," Martin said.

His colleagues are hoping for the best as their friend remains hospitalized.

"At the moment, we're trying to keep our spirits up for him cause all he was trying to do was defuse the situation," Daniel Johnson said.

Qydria Fowler and Malinda Hall were two of the six people taken to Temple University Hospital after being hit by the driver of the Buick Century.

A day later, they were walking around with crutches.

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"My foot was ran over, because I backed up and he ran my whole foot over," said Fowler.

"I might have to get surgery done on my hip," said Hall. "I thought we were getting ready to lose our lives."

Hall and Fowler said bad blood with a man who allegedly pulled a knife on them earlier in the day at 15th and Diamond street led to the other altercation.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kinnebrew confirmed the first incident.

"It's believed that during the argument, a male involved in this pulled a knife on a female," he said.

Fowler and Hall said the man would eventually confront them at 16th and Lehigh.

But their friends and family, including Gilmore, would step in and fight.

Fowler said, "The neighborhood boys did whatever they did and the brother came out of nowhere and was going on a rampage."

Police said it was during that fight that the brother of the man who pulled the knife drove his car straight into the brawl, turning his vehicle into a weapon.

Several residents including Gilmore's nephew Oliver Wood witnessed the incident unfold.

Wood said he saw the Buick plow into Gilmore.

"I picked him up. Put him in the back of a car and rushed him to the hospital," Wood said.

Block Captain Bashan Jennings is asking why officials have not reached out to them to deal with the onslaught of violence out on the street.

"We need our politicians and the Democrats who we voted for to roll up their sleeves and to come out and meet with us," Jennings said.

The suspect remains hospitalized for injuries he suffered when residents pulled him out of the vehicle and pummeled him. He is expected to be charged with six counts of aggravated assault by motor vehicle and related offenses.
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