Savages

    Family says grudge turned deadly, claiming teen’s life
    Terrell Anderson, 16, was slain on the street. Police are looking for a link with a two-week-old argument.
    By Barbara Boyer, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

    Sixteen-year-old Terrell Anderson had kept to himself for about two weeks, ever since he got into a fight with some South Philadelphia teens.

    Finally, on Saturday, he seemed in good spirits, his older sister, Tanisha Anderson, said yesterday. That night, he went to a friend’s house.

    On his way home, two men ambushed him in the 1500 block of South 24th Street, near Point Breeze, releasing a single slug to the back of his head about 11:30.

    Less than an hour later, the teen – a 10th grader at Community Education Partnership, a school that helps at-risk students – was pronounced dead at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, police said.

Mr. Anderson was the 103rd person murdered in Philadelphia so far this year — and he died on the 107th day of the year. That’s not quite one-a-day, but it’s close: 0.9626 per day. And while the City of Brotherly Love exceeded one-a-day in 2005 (380 murders in 365 days), at this time last year, the city had, according to the Inquirer story linked above, exactly the same number of murders as this year.

Last year, Philly had a rash of killings in a short period of time: there were 22 murders in a 10 day period of early March last year. This year hasn’t seen the same outburst of murders, but the total number is exactly the same.

The outburst last year led to a special report by the Inquirer, printed on Palm Sunday. Naturally, the columnists and the politicians all blamed a lack of effective gun control laws. I wrote:

    The problem isn’t with guns; it’s with people. There isn’t anyone who isn’t just plain mentally deficient above the age of six who doesn’t know that killing people is wrong, that shooting people is against the law. But there is apparently a subculture in some areas in which that knowledge constitutes nothing more than an interesting fact, a fact which has no significant bearing on how people in that subculture actually behave.

And, of course, nothing has changed in a year. If you follow the link and read the complete story about Terrell Anderson’s murder, you’ll see that it apparently stems from an argument and ensuing fistfight about a girl, two weeks previously.

Think about that. An argument festered in someone’s small mind for two freaking weeks, and, with all of that time to consider what the hell he was doing, someone still thought that it was a good idea to blow Mr Anderson’s brains out.

What was he thinking? Yeah, maybe he was thinking that he’ll get away with it; after all, something like 147 of the 380 murders last year have not yet been solved. (That’s 38.7%.) But even at that high rate of unsolved murders, 61.7% were solved. And with the high-profile murder trial of two gang thugs last month, a trial in which the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to spend the rest of their miserable lives in jail despite the “no snitchin’” mentality and witness intimidation, whoever shot Mr. Anderson pretty much had to know that he was risking going to prison for the rest of his life, just to get even for a fight over a girl.

And he did it anyway. How savage, and how freaking stupid do you have to be, to do something like that?

The greater probability is that the killer will be caught, and that, in a year or so, we’ll be reading in The Philadelphia Inquirer about how his family was in tears when their little boy, with his whole life ahead of him, was sentenced to spend the rest of his miserable, scumbag life behind bars. And we’ll have an understandable sympathy for the family — but that sympathy will be heavily tempered by the knowledge that he brought it on himself.