Three dead in Wilmington soccer game shootings

The death toll is now three from a shootout in Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood.

Wilmington Police say two victims who were shot on the field during a soccer game Sunday have died at the hospital.  A suspect who was in a car that got into a crash nearby also was shot to death.

16-year-old Alexander Kamara of Pike Creek died of a gunshot to the head.  47-year-old Herman Curry also was pronounced dead after being shot in the chest. 

The suspect who was pronounced dead Sunday has been identified as 43-year-old Sheldon Olge of Maryland. 

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Two suspects are charged with the killings of Kamara and Curry.

34-year-old Otis Phillips of New Castle was arrested in a nearby vacant lot Sunday.  He is charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, conspiracy and weapons offenses.  Police say Phillips was also wanted for a January 2008 homicide in Wilmington on North Locust Street.

22-year-old Jeffrey Phillips of Wilmington is also under arrest for murder charges.  He suffered a gunshot wound to the leg before being arrested by Wilmington Police.

Wilmington Police Chief Michael Szczerba said his department will continue with high-visibility patrols, utilizing overtime when necessary.

“When you’re looking at an active park, with a soccer tournament, basketball games, people occupying the pool, and you have a few violent individuals acting in that manner… it’s sad to see,” Szczerba said.  “The investigation will not end with these arrests.”

Community concerns

One day after gunshots rang out at Wilmington’s Eden Park, children were climbing on the playground equipment.  Some played basketball.  A few parks and recreation employees were overseeing the usual summer feeding program for young people. Several police officers were utilizing the park for a K-9 training exercise. 

In the parking lot near the field where three players were hit by gunfire, chalk circles outlined areas where police found evidence. 

Rita Brisco of Milton is an occasional visitor to the park, and was there at midday Monday just a short time after learning about the violence the previous day. 

“To me, it’s safe.  Now, after the incident happened, it’s not too safe for the children,” Brisco said.  “That’s my main concern, the children.  Because a bullet doesn’t have anybody’s name.” 

Another man who was visiting the park said he grew up nearby and said it was a nice park years ago. 

The incident personally touched City Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz, whose own grandson dove into the pool at the park to escape the gunfire.  For a time, his whereabouts were unknown. 

“We need to have some street intervention done,” Shabazz said.

Seeking solutions

Candidates in this year’s wide open race for Mayor of Wilmington have already been addressing the problem of gun violence, drug violence and crime in the city. 

Bill Montgomery, who is currently Chief of Staff for Mayor Baker, said there are models for addressing crime that have worked in various cities that focus like an “intervention.”  “It involves the family, it involves the community, it involves the shooters themselves and it involves the police and prosecutorial agencies,” Montgomery said.  “It has everybody coming together with what’s called a singular moral voice for the community that we’re not going to tolerate this any longer.”

State Representative Dennis P. Williams, a former police officer who is also running for Mayor, said he’s not sure if any level of planning could have prevented Sunday’s incident.  His public safety plan puts the focus on community policing.  “It’s quite obvious when police officers are assigned to a district and they are not moved out, they know different people are coming in and out of the community, and they know the suspicious players” Williams said.  “Once you’re in a district for six or seven months and you’re not rotated out, you start to pick up on things.  People start to tell you things.” 

Meanwhile, Rita Brisco said she might have kept looking for another park to visit had she been fully aware of Sunday’s shootout. 

“I’ll come back from time to time, but if another incident happened I don’t think I will.”

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