Tragically, Laron Williams Jr. lost his life on his 12th birthday when he was caught in the crossfire of stray bullets as he crossed the street.
It happened around 2 p.m. as the young boy, who was only a year away from entering his teens, made a short 50-foot trip from his residence in East Germantown to collect lunch prepared by a kind-hearted woman on Crowson Street, known for feeding neighborhood children.
After bidding him farewell, Laron began his return journey through the 700 block of East Locust Avenue, intending to reach his home.
As Laron returned, an alarming incident occurred nearby. A man, armed with a rifle, suddenly got out of a vehicle further up the block and began shooting into the street.
The sound of gunfire echoed through the air as at least 11 shots were fired. Unfortunately, two men, aged 47 and 30, were repeatedly rammed and collapsed, their bodies intertwining on the sidewalk, according to law enforcement.
Tragically, Laron, affectionately nicknamed “LJ” by those close to him, found himself in the path of bullets. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his back, causing him to collapse at the foot of the stairs in his forever home.
Her parents rushed to her side, providing comfort and support until the police arrived. Urgently, officers transported Laron to Einstein Medical Center for immediate medical attention.
Unfortunately, the injuries Laron sustained proved fatal and he tragically passed away moments later. His untimely death marked a heartbreaking milestone, as he became the youngest victim of gun violence in Philadelphia this year.
The two men, Khalif Chambers, 30, of Germantown, and Riley Darden, 47, of Norristown, also died of their injuries shortly after being taken to Einstein Medical Center. So far, no arrests have been made in connection with the incident.
A person familiar with the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the shooting is believed to be linked to an ongoing drug dispute.
Assistant Police Commissioner Frank Vanore refrained from speculating on the motive as the investigation is still ongoing.
However, he stressed that detectives were thoroughly exploring all possibilities, including the potential involvement of drugs or any previous incidents that may have triggered the shooting. Vanore mentioned that it’s possible one of the men was specifically targeted. However, one fact remains undeniable:
Laron was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of stray bullets.
Mayor Jim Kenney said he was “devastated” to learn of the shooting in a Tweeter released Thursday.
“No one should have their life and potential cut short by violence,” he wrote. “Our communities deserve better. This senseless violence must stop.
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