The Philadelphia Office of the Victim Advocate gave families of murder victims a chance to talk about their loved ones, and encourage others who have lost family and friends to violence, to make it. “Voices,” was the group’s first virtual event for survivors.
“We appreciate your strength to share your stories and give others some hope,” said Heather Arias, deputy director of the victims advocacy group. They held a moment of silence for those who fell to tragedy, in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which ended on Saturday.
The mother of Samuel Sean Collington, the 21-year-old Temple University senior who was murdered in an off-campus attempted robbery in 2021, remembered her son.
Collington was coming by to drop off laundry and supplies and planning to stay to watch HBO with his mother Molly and sleep in his own bed, she said, “when he was shot by a career criminal.”
The liberal arts student from Prospect Park, died within 30 minutes of being shot two times in the chest near the 2200 block of North Park Avenue.
“Sam knew every president of the United States by heart,” said his mother. “He was president of the political science society. He planned to attend law school. He interned at City Hall with elected officials. He rode on a bus with other students to campaign for his favorite politician Bernie Sanders. He had a larger-than-life personality. He was destined for something big. He made us better people just knowing him.
“Our kids should be able to go to school safely. There should be stricter penalties and jail time,” Molly Collington said. “Time heals all wounds … but not this one.”
Homicide victim Ramir Porter, 29, of East Stafford Street, was killed July 31, 2022, on the 3900 block of Priscilla Street. He died of multiple gunshot wounds at Temple Hospital. He was remembered as a father of a son and daughter.
Dre’Shawn Jefferson, who died June 27, 2022, was also remembered. “We will be forever heartbroken,” said family. He was a mentally gifted child who was allowed to skip his senior year of high school, and graduate at 16.
Pennsylvania State Trooper Martin F. Mack III, was also struck down by a drunken driver in a case that made headlines on March 21, 2022. The 33-year-old officer died when an intoxicated driver hit him and killed him along with Trooper Brandon Sisca and Reyes Rivera-Oliveras on I-95 at 1 a.m. He He left behind a wife, Stephanie Mack, two children, Olivia and Rowan and parents Martin and Florence Mack.
Nasir Iman Robertson, 36, was shot and killed on July 5, 2019 in North Philadelphia, while working on an investment property he owned. “He was the loving father or three beautiful children,” said his wife Jocelyn.
“He had so much potential!” lamented Damaris Perez-Soto, mother of Joshua Anthony Soto, who was killed Nov. 6, 2021. The 18-year-old Central High School student was shot once in the chest along East Cornwall Street in Kensington one Saturday. The young man competed in international figure skating and was a national gold medalist, said his mom. “Joshua was one of the brightest for U.S. ice dancing and he was planning to be begin college in January of 2022 at West Chester University. We will forever see his smile and remember his lessons of hard work and determination.”
James Lambert Sr., known to family as “Simmie,” died tragically in June 2022 when a group of seven teenagers blugeoned the 77-year-old senior to death with a traffic cone. Lambert went for a walk about 2:30 a.m. on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 21st Street when he ran into the group of three boys and four boys in their early teens.
Lambert was remembered by jos sister Elsie Stephens as “a Muslim (since 1965) who fed the homeless and helpless. I miss him more than words can say.” she said, of the retired construction worker who grew up in the city’s Fairmount section of North Philadelphia.
Other victims remembered by relatives included Daniel Robinson, a 24-year-old geologist who died June 23, 2021. “He was my boo — my angel from up above,” said his mother. Brian Rivers was remembered as the “best big brother,” by his younger brother, Loren Rivers. Zach Owen Julye, 19, was just about to start college when he was shot, July 2, 2022, on the 1900 block of North 3rd Street. And Galdys Coriano of Bethel Temple Church, who was murdered on Jan. 20, 2021 “wil never be forgotten.”
Victim Michael Green was recalled by his sister, Michelle Green, as “smart, funny, creative, courageous and funny and the life of the party.” Green referred to his sons Michael, Hudson and Hunter as “his squad.” “Now his baby boy will have to hear stories about his dad — the dj at all of the family-gatherings — from his big brothers,” she said. “He fought for what he believed in and didn’t give up.”
The Office of the Victims’ Advocate continues to work with the Crime-Stoppers Program, and Arias encouraged anyone with tips about shootings or homicides to contact police. Helping the police collect information “could result in an arrest and a 20,000 reward,” she said.
Sherry Stone is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.