For the second time in the past two years, a person in Philadelphia has been shot as a result of an argument over parking. This time, a 23-year-old father is dead after a dispute over double-parking ended in gunfire.
According to police and witness accounts, the tragic altercation began when 23-year-old Mark Ellis, a worker at Temple University’s hospital, was dropping off his fiancee, Syreeta Manire on Dewey Street in West Philadelphia, but he had trouble maneuvering around a car that was double-parked in front of him.
That car was driven by a 25-year-old armed security guard who was in the neighborhood to pick up his sister, shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday morning.
When the security guard, whose name is currently being withheld by police, returned to his vehicle, he saw Ellis’s car pulled up directly behind his.
“The guy gets out and says, ‘Don’t be pulling up on my car that way,’” said Manire’s sister, Mercedes Echols, describing the scene to a local TV station.
Ellis then yelled back, “Go park your car, move your car,” according to Echols. At that point, the argument became heated.
At some point, Ellis insulted the security guard as “not a real cop,” according to witness accounts.
Both men reportedly had guns. While the security guard was licensed to carry a firearm as part of his job, it is unclear why Ellis had one. Both men pulled their weapons and started shooting.
Investigators are still trying to determine who shot first.
One neighborhood resident reported hearing four shots fired. Police, however, said they found at least nine shell casings at the scene.
While the security guard was wearing a bulletproof vest, Ellis clearly was not. He was struck by a bullet in the chest and pronounced dead at the scene.
Police took the security guard in for questioning but as of Monday had not filed charges against him.
“A young man is dead!” said Ellis’ aunt, Renee Brooks, speaking to Philly’s NBC Channel 10 News. “He’s dead, over a parking spot. Because he said he wasn’t a real cop? That’s why he’s dead? That doesn’t make sense to me. None of this makes sense to me.”
Brooks also disputed the police account that her nephew fired shots at all during the altercation.
In 2011, a 35-year-old Philadelphia woman was critically wounded in her home when someone involved in a parking dispute outside opened fire with a shotgun.
Sources: NBC 10 News, ABC News, Philadelphia Daily News