Detectives are looking for a North Philadelphia man in connection with the Jan. 1 murder of a Frankford resident.
Police said they are seeking Christopher Johnson, 30, in the shooting death of 47-year-old Gerard “Irish” Markert. Police also said they believe another man might have been involved.
The victim was shot several times in the back and neck at about 1:30 a.m. on the 4100 block of Orchard St., where he lived, police said. He died while being taken to Temple University Hospital, police said.
Markert’s death is connected to an auto accident at Womrath Street and Frankford Avenue that occurred shortly before the shooting, police said. The Rev. John Large, pastor of Mater Dolorosa R.C. Church, said a candlelight vigil was held inside the Frankford church on Jan. 4. The pastor said Markert is from a family with a long history in the neighborhood, and the Jan. 4 service as well as the Mass of Christian Burial on Jan. 7 were well-attended.
Markert is survived by his mother, Helen Markert; children, Gerard Paul Markert Jr. and Courtney Blair; grandchild, Jaxon; sisters Eileen Horn and Nancy Nelson; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
He had attended St. Joachim’s and Mater Dolorosa parish schools before attending North Catholic and then Frankford High School.
Markert was very proud of his Irish heritage, his sister said.
“His favorite day was St. Patrick’s Day,” said Horn.
“My uncle Gerry was a decent man with good intentions and a big warm heart,” his niece Katie Ann Horn said as she delivered his eulogy last week.
“He was a wise-cracker. Always telling jokes, always making us laugh,” she said.
Horn said her brother was a creative and handy guy who was in the process of starting his own home-repair business. He painted and wrote poetry but also was adept at carpentry.
“He was good with his hands,” she said.
He also was not someone who would back away from a fight, especially if a relative or neighbor was involved.
“He wouldn’t take anything from anyone,” she said.
On the morning he died, she said, a second-cousin was involved in a traffic accident. She said she learned that the occupants of the other car told the relative they wanted $1,000 when the cousin tried to exchange information after the accident.
She said the relative drove away, but the other men followed him to the 4100 block of Orchard St. and tried to pull him out of his car. Markert, who lived on that block, saw what was happening and raced to his relative’s aid. Horn said punches were thrown but the fight broke up.
She said the other men drove around the neighborhood and then spotted Markert on another relative’s front step. One of them ran up to him, shot him three times and then shot him again after he fell. Horn said police officers put him in a patrol car to take him to Temple University Hospital, but Markert died on the way.
Johnson, whose last known addresses are on the 1100 block of W. Venango and the 1300 block of 66th Ave., is wanted on murder and conspiracy charges in Markert’s death. He is black with a light complexion, 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 250 pounds, police said.
As the Times went to press, detectives had no information on the other man.
Anyone with information about Johnson should call Detective John Harkins of the Philadelphia Police Department’s homicide unit at 215–686–3334. ••