About 1,000 people gathered in South Philadelphia Wednesday night on the street where two teen boys with promising futures were killed in a hail of gunfire.
Caleer Miller and Salvatore DiNubile, both 16, were on the 2300 block of S. 12th Street at 8:24 p.m. when an argument broke out between two groups of teens, police said.
At least one gunman opened fire and shot both victims in the chest and then fled the scene.
"I heard the shots," said Frank Decero, DiNubile's friend. "I was right on 13th and Porter. I didn't know this happened. I thought it was fireworks."
U.S. & World
The teens were both taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where doctors pronounced them dead a short time later.
"It's just one of those tragic mixes when fights happen. Years ago it used to be with fists," a Philadelphia police spokesman said.
Police could not confirm whether Miller and DiNubile were the intended targets. They believe a fight had broken out between two groups shortly before the shooting. They are working to identify six possible suspects, some of whom they believe are teens. They have not yet released descriptions however.
Miller, who lived on Dorrance Street, was just one month into his junior year at a new high school, Mastery Charter School Thomas Campus in South Philadelphia. Teachers described him as an active and engaged student who made friends quickly. He worked in the neighborhood and volunteered in his church and the local YMCA, Mastery said.
"He was a great kid," Miller's cousin told NBC10. "Straight A's, respectful, full of love with a big heart."
Counselors will be available for both students and staff coping with Miller's death, Mastery said.
DiNubile lived near where the shooting took place. He was a junior at St. Joseph's Preparatory School and a member of the hockey team, school officials said. Parents were notified of DiNubile's death and a closed church service was held at the school Wednesday morning.
"He was a good kid," Decero said. "He didn't deserve this at all. He would do anything for you."
During Wednesday's vigil, loved ones brought flowers and candles in honor of the slain teens.
"He was well-loved by his Prep brothers, his hockey teammates and all who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sal’s family and friends at this terrible time," St. Joseph's posted on the school's website.
There have been 253 homicides this year in Philadelphia as of Tuesday, a 10 percent increase from the same period in 2016. More than 1,000 people have been shot since the beginning of 2017, according to Philadelphia police.