Teen shot in robbery

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Police said the assailant fired at the 15-year-old victim as he tried to make a run for it.

A teen was shot in the lower left leg as he tried to escape from an armed robber early Friday, police said.

The assailant approached the 15-year-old on the 2300 block of Watkins Street, pulled out a gun and demanded money, said Sgt. Steve Biello of South Detective Division.

When the victim took off running, the culprit fired at him, the sergeant said.
The teen was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in stable condition.

The offender fled east on Pierce Street, added Biello.

To report information, call South Detectives at 215-686-3013.


Punching for kicks?

South Detectives is investigating a series of bizarre assaults in which black assailants — sometimes wearing boxing gloves — attack white victims.

The first incident occurred Nov. 16 at 6:40 p.m. on the 400 block of Carpenter Street, said Sgt. Steve Biello of South Detectives. A gang of eight to 10 males approached two teens and began using them as punching bags, the sergeant said. The 19- and 17-year-old victims told police several of the offenders wore red boxing gloves.

One of the other males used either a knife or razor to cut the 19-year-old on the back, said Biello.

After the victims flagged down police, Medic 21 took the 19-year-old to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he was treated and released.

The next day around the same time, a gang of males attacked a 38-year-old while he was riding his bike on the 1000 block of South Fourth Street, the sergeant said.

Minus boxing gloves this time, the assailants kicked and punched the victim, causing bruises and swelling, said Biello.

Then around 7:40 p.m. on the 1000 block of East Moyamensing Avenue, a gang confronted a 31-year-old man and started beating him about the head with an unknown object, the sergeant said. Again, no gloves were used in the attack.

The victim was treated for a lump to the head at Jefferson Hospital.

The latest incident happened Nov. 18. A teen was walking on the 500 block of Carpenter Street when he was beaten and struck in the back of his head by a gang of males, Biello said. One of the culprits had on boxing gloves in the 3:50 p.m. assault. The 17-year-old victim did not require hospital treatment.

Investigators definitely think all the incidents are connected, and that the same gang might be responsible for two more incidents earlier this month, said Biello.

Detectives are asking anyone with information to call South Detectives at 215-686-3013.


Reduced jail term for witness

Michael Focoso, the government’s star witness in the Billy Rinick homicide trial last month, just got a little closer to his own freedom.

Focoso, who is serving a federal sentence for drug trafficking, fingered Rinick as the triggerman in the Halloween 2001 slaying of Adam Finelli. Rinick was subsequently convicted and received a life sentence.

Last week, a federal judge rewarded Focoso for what some might term ratting out his onetime neighborhood pal and associate in the local drug trade. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno knocked off five years from Focoso’s 10-year federal drug sentence, said spokesperson Rich Manieri of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.


Murder fugitive nabbed in Texas

First, authorities charged Ramon Mills with murder and aggravated assault. Then, after learning he had fled the state, they issued a federal fugitive warrant for him.

Mills, 21, was arrested last Thursday before dawn at a hotel in Houston, said FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Lampinski.

Mills is accused of gunning down Perry Brewington, 22, on the 2100 block of South Marshall Street, and injuring two others, police said. An argument sparked the Nov. 16 incident, said Lt. Joe Maum of the Homicide Division.

The victim, from the 2100 block of South Sixth Street, was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. from multiple gunshot wounds, officials said.

Mills faces extradition to Philadelphia, Lampinski said.


Two guilty in teen’s murder

Two men were convicted Nov. 12 of first-degree murder for gunning down an 18-year-old on April 23, 2001.

Shawn Bishop, 24, of the 600 block of Tree Street, and Kamil McFadden, 23, of the 500 block of Cantrell Street, were found guilty of murder, possession of an instrument of crime and conspiracy, said Cathie Abookire, director of communications for the District Attorney’s Office.

The defendants ambushed Asmar Davis, of the 300 block of Earp Street, while he sat in a parked car on the 1200 block of South 18th Street, police said.

Davis was struck multiple times in the head and chest and was dead by the time police arrived moments later.

Assistant District Attorney Yvonne Ruiz called the murder a hit for hire.

The case tried before Common Pleas Judge Jane Greenspan was not a death-penalty case, noted the prosecutor.

Sentencing for Bishop and Kamil is scheduled for Jan. 8.


Cops want scooters to scoot

Philadelphia police want the public to know that motorized scooters are illegal. Yet, in the hopes of luring holiday shoppers, many retailers have been placing ads for the scooters — which range in price from $99 to $399, said First District Community Relations Officer Donato Inverso. Inverso said the scooters are not only illegal on streets and sidewalks, but very dangerous.

For months, an effort has been underway in South Police Division to crack down on the nuisances.

For more information, call the First District at 215-686-3017.


Slain mob figure ‘a gentleman’

By most accounts, John "Johnny Gons" Casasanto was a nice guy, and the best neighbor a person could hope for.

But whoever held a gun to the 35-year-old’s head and pulled the trigger might beg to differ.

There was apparently some score to settle — and the shooter or shooters did just that in the wee hours Saturday in a home on the 1200 block of Durfor Street, where Casasanto, a reputed longtime mob figure, had lived for two years.

A husband and wife who live on the block but did not want to give their names said Casasanto was like a son to them. The 57-year-old husband told the Review he heard five gunshots ring out sometime between 2 and 4 a.m. Saturday. The man got up to use the bathroom around 2 a.m. and had trouble going back to sleep, he said.

"I didn’t pay any attention to [the gunshots]," the man added. Since he and his 58-year-old wife said they hear gunshots regularly in their neighborhood, the noise didn’t phase them.

The couple now wishes they had called police.

The neighbor might have heard the very shots that killed Casasanto, who was found in a pool of blood nearly 12 hours later. Family and friends discovered the victim around 1:30 p.m. after having forced open the front door of his home, said Inspector Bill Colarulo of the Police Public Affairs Unit.

Casasanto was shot at close range — once in the back of the head and once in the back, the inspector added.

He was taken to Jefferson University Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries minutes after midnight Sunday, police said.

Investigators don’t believe the killer forced his way in.

Monday, homicide detectives — accompanied by the Streets Department — revisited the neighborhood.Using a digging apparatus, a Streets Department truck delved into a sewer at 12th and Durfor in hopes of finding the murder weapon.

When asked about Casasanto, his next-door neighbor said, "I have nothing to say. He was a gentleman." She added that she didn’t hear anything strange coming from the victim’s home.

At the Asian-owned Guido’s Mini-Market at 12th and Durfor, the owner smiled sweetly when asked about his regular customer. The victim, whom he described as a nice guy, would come in mostly to buy cigarettes, he recalled.

Despite the rosy portrait many paint of Casasanto, law enforcement tells a different tale.

On Oct. 23, he was arrested for allegedly stabbing singer Jonathan "Chico" DeBarge inside an Old City nightclub, police said. The knifing occurred during an altercation.

Casasanto was charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, weapons offenses and related charges. In the late 1990s, Casasanto served more than eight years in prison on a racketeering charge, police said. He was released from prison three years ago, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He was also identified as a suspect in the gangland-style slaying of Raymond "Long John" Martorano — a South Philly mob figure, newly released from prison, who was ambushed in his car near his home at Sixth and Fitzwater streets last year. The 74-year-old managed to drive to the hospital, where he hung on for three weeks before dying. No one was ever charged in the mobster’s murder.

The seedier side of Casasanto’s life aside, those who knew him insisted he was a good man.

"I just want everybody to know he was a kindhearted person," said his 57-year-old neighbor, choking back tears. "Whatever kind of lifestyle he had was none of our business."

The woman said when she was in the hospital, Casasanto called her every day and asked her husband if there was anything they needed.

The woman he sometimes called "Mom" would bake him Christmas cookies and give him a Halloween trick-or-treat basket, she recalled. Days before his death, the neighbor ran into Casasanto and asked him when he wanted his Christmas cookies this year.

"I don’t care what he was into, nobody deserves to die that way," she said.