East Germantown teen held for trial in Welcome America shooting case

An East Germantown teenager who allegedly shot someone, and was then shot by police, near the Ben Franklin Parkway’s Welcome America Fourth of July festivities was ordered held for trial after a preliminary hearing in Family Court on Wednesday.

Nafis Scott, 16, is being held on $3 million bail in connection with a trio of incidents.

The charges against Scott stem from charges that he allegedly shot another teen who identified him as the gunman in Judge James Murray Lynn’s courtroom, was involved in the case of a teen who testified that Scott was not the person who fired at him around 9 p.m. July 4 and allegedly pointed a gun at officers, one of whom fired at and struck Scott, after he refused to drop the weapon.

Victim: Suspect didn’t shoot him

Defense attorney Daniel Bartoli asked Lynn to dismiss charges in the second instance because victim Jabriel Werts testified Scott “is not the one who shot me.”

The judge sided with assistant district attorney Namratha Ravikant’s argument that the weapon with which Werts was shot was both used against victim Shaheed Whack and wielded by Scott when confronted with police near 17th St. and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

Both incidents occurred just blocks from droves of people attending the festive holiday gathering, when a televised concert was airing from in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. No bystanders were injured.

Three witnesses testify

Two shooting victims and a police sergeant at the Fourth of July scene painted a vivid picture of violence that started with a verbal spat between two groups of teens.

Werts, who was also handcuffed in court due to pending robbery charges, told the court that he was with a group of five teens in the vicinity of Love Park around 9:15 p.m.

Werts’ brother Khalil was beefing “with some boy,” he testified.

“Words were exchanged, out came a gun and I got shot in the left leg,” said Werts, 19, noting that he could not identify the shooter beyond the fact that he was wearing dark-colored clothing.

Despite being wounded, he was able to run as the group split up post-shooting. However, a police officer who saw he’d been wounded called for an ambulance, said Werts. The bullet has not been removed from his body.

Shaheed Whack, whose parents accompanied him into court, testified that Scott was the person who shot him in the leg, roughly two blocks away from the first shooting. He said he ran into harm’s way near the Comcast Tower upon hearing his friend had been shot moments earlier.

“I was trying to see what was up, and I was dumb enough to walk toward the person who was shooting,” said Whack, noting that he heard two shots but was only struck once.

Confrontation with police

The final witness on Wednesday was police Sgt. Denise Brown who was assigned, along with three other officers, to the area of 17th and JFK Boulevard that night.

“We saw young men in the street looking like they were going to fight,” she testified. “When we got closer, one young man started pulling something out of his pocket. It ended up being a small gun.”

At that point, according to Brown’s testimony, Scott started running away from them. He then turned around and was pointing the weapon at one of the officer’s torsos despite “numerous” warnings to drop the gun.

That’s when the officer at whom Scott was aiming shot the suspect, she said.

Police recovered a small .22 caliber silver handgun with three spent casings from Scott, the police sergeant said.

Ravikant, the assistant district attorney, said those casings represent the bullet fired into Werts’ leg and the two shots that Whack heard.

“More likely than not,” the gun Scott pointed at officers was used in both shootings, Ravikant said.

Bail hike brings tears

The judge then levied $1 million bail in each shooting and for the threat of deadly force of pointing a gun at police, and ordered Scott held for trial.

Scott, who wore a white Muslim-garb cap and robe as he was led into and out of the courtroom in handcuffs, only spoke once during the hour-long hearing which his mother, father, grandmother and other supporters attended.

He said “Yes” when Lynn issued a stay-away order, telling the suspect to avoid all contact with the victims and their families. Scott’s mother cried when he was held for trial under a higher bail amount.

He blew supporters a kiss as he was led from the courtroom afterwards. One relative told Scott she loved him before he was taken back to jail.

“I was surprised by the testimony,” Bartoli said Wednesday afternoon. “There was no reason for the increased bail since nothing changed from when the bail set until today.”

Initially, bail was set at $350,000 (10 percent) on two charges and $500,000 on another, the defense attorney said.

Scott is charged with aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license, recklessly endangering another person and related offenses. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 6.

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