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Christy RecreationCenter (courtesy

As a native Rhode Islander, I know that the story is never the story. There’s always a story behind the story. Sometimes I’ll hold off reporting on a shooting to see how it shakes out. Blog enough gun news and you get a sense of these things. With that disclaimer aside, short of self-defense, there’s no excuse for firing a gun in the middle of a basketball game. tells the tale . . .

The game was league play for neighborhood 14- to 16-year-old players, said Southwest Lt. John Walker. About 70 people were in the gym, he said.

During the second half of the game, the younger coach’s team started losing, and the coach started arguing with members of the crowd, Walker said.

When the opposing coach, a 45-year-old man, tried to intervene, the other man drew a gun from his waistband and fired at him, Walker said.

“By the grace of God, no one was struck by the gunfire,” he said. “When the gun went off, everyone ran from the rec center.”

What’s the bet that there’s some gang involvement here – rather than simply a bad loser gone ballistic? (Southwest Philadelphia is home to the Harlem Boys gang.) And that the “younger coach” (26) wasn’t carrying legally. And that the term “coach” may be overstating his role, or at least his status within the community.

Don’t get me wrong; I could be wrong. No matter what did or did not cause the shooting, it was an irresponsible gun owner acting irresponsibly, putting dozens of lives at risk. There is only one reason for a gun owner to remove his firearm and bring it to bear on another human being: if he or she or other innocent life faces an imminent credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm.

Responsibility. That’s our policy. It wasn’t his.

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    • EXACTLY what I was about to type.

      How is this perp “irresponsible???” Is a bank robber “irresponsible?” A murderer?

      This guy committed attempted murder. He missed. He was unsuccessful. But, that doesn’t change what he is… a violent criminal.

      • “But, that doesn’t change what he is… a violent criminal.”

        With an IQ hovering around 70. And pretty much ZERO impulse control. Did I mention the inability for forward time thinking?

  1. I’d be interested to see what, if any, gun charges are filed. Or maybe there will just be a few more infringements on the legal gun owners of Phila-stan.

  2. Did he get a technical foul? Did the other coach get to shoot two?

    Those are the unanswered questions.

    • Since the other coach didn’t shoot back, I’m guessing the ‘shot clock’ ran down.

  3. Yeah, I don’t know much about basketball but I’d guess that that is against the rules somehow.

    • Did you ever go to a shooting only to have a basketball game break out? It happens at Rucker Park all the time.

      • Went to fight and a hockey game broke out.

        Good thing they played on ice. Kept the swelling down…

  4. Sounds all kinds of fishy, as to what the true nature of this contest was, and that of its participants. Perhaps “coach” is something ofcan overstatement and this wasn’t all that organized an event. Perhaps.

    If not, and we aren’t talking about a banger who’s gotta bang regardless, then this could well be one of those cases of an armed individual “snapping” during the heightened emotional state typical of sporting events and court proceedings.

    It is those snapping incidents that antis point to as justification for gun free zones. A spree killer will ignore the no-guns sign, of course, but would most otherwise law abiding hotheads?

    • It could be, sure. And Cthulu could rise from the ocean and consume us all tomorrow.

      But dollars to donuts this ‘coach’ wasn’t carrying legally and has a prior criminal record.

  5. I admire the measured comments of “Southwest Lt. John Walker.” He works one of the two toughest police districts (‘precincts’) in Philadelphia. I’ve been to Southwest Detectives (aka Southwest Lockup, aka 18th PD) a number of times in the wee hours of the morning to advise suburban youths who thought, for one exceptionally stupid moment, that driving into the city to buy weed was a clever way to cut out the middleman. In the middle of the night the lockup is a screaming bedlam. Those trips were my reward for saying, “sure, put me on speed-dial.”

    If you recall the brave psychiatrist whose skill with a (forbidden in the building) pistol brought a halt to a hospital shooting last year, that hospital is perhaps 1.5 miles from today’s basketball alternative dispute resolution: The 26-year-old coach probably fled homeward, out of the city, roughly in the direction of that hospital…farther southwest. I suppose the young and inexperienced coach failed to realize that playing indoors the Southwest rules-of-the-game change.

    • The problem with doing criminal law work is that most clients are, well, criminals. Except for the alleged white collar criminals that I may or may not have represented. They were all wrongfully accused. And the Federal short-stay hotels are so much nicer than The Tombs.

      • I hope this gives you a laugh: My background is in taxation, trusts, and estates, together with some regulatory bits and RE. I thought maintaining some basic state criminal law skill (at least enough to get people through arraignment, help them chill until the real criminal lawyer gets home from the Bahamas) would be a good way to build client loyalty, and might be amusing. What I very quickly found out was just how many nice affluent suburban families had kids that were totally off the rails. I gave that bit up.

        The Inpatient Rehab business just has to be a gold mine these days.

  6. The guy turned himself in, apparently shot toward the ceiling, and claims more-or-less that it was a warning shot to buy him time to escape and angry mob. It’s definitely an unusual incident.

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