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Walking for peace in Wissinoming

Members of the Wissinoming community remembered Michael Gleba and called for an end to violence in the neighborhood during a walk Saturday night.

Members of the Wissinoming community, including family and friends of Michael Gleba, walk to stop the violence in the neighborhood. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

A large crowd walked the streets of Wissinoming Saturday night in memory of Michael Gleba, a 56-year-old mechanic who was killed by a stray bullet, and called for peace in the neighborhood.

Gleba, of Bensalem, died April 11 after being caught in the middle of a gunfight near Northeast Speedometer Service, 4807 Benner St. He was hit in the stomach as he was working on a car at around 3:15 p.m.

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A memorial was set up outside the shop, which Gleba had owned for 17 years, and Benner was closed between Hegerman and Edmund streets for the Saturday gathering.

Friends and neighbors described Gleba as a selfless family man who loved the community and would often cut people breaks and help them out. He grew up in Wissinoming and still had deep ties to the neighborhood.

Gleba’s brother and other family members participated in the walk, which began at the auto repair shop and made its way down Torresdale Avenue and past American Legion Playground.

Residents held a banner and chanted “stop the violence” and “put down the guns, raise the love.”

People lit candles at a memorial for Michael Gleba outside Northeast Speedometer Service, 4807 Benner St., the auto repair shop he owned for 17 years. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

GOP mayoral hopeful Billy Ciancaglini and Republican City Council candidate Pete Smith were among those who attended the walk.

The walk and vigil was organized by Eddie Welsh, who said he had known Gleba for decades. The purpose was not only to remember Gleba, but to call for an end to the violence in Wissinoming.

“I had to do it. This is enough. This used to be a great area,” said Welsh, who grew up in the neighborhood and still lives in the Northeast. “The criminals here, they have to know that we’re still here.”

Less than two hours after Gleba was shot, Izeem Hunter, 23, was fatally shot inside a corner store nearby at Torresdale Avenue and Anchor Street. Authorities believe the shootings may have been related.

Four men have been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the deaths of Gleba and Hunter.

Residents at Saturday’s gathering said they see police cars in the area every night and frequently hear gunshots.

Gun violence hits particularly close to home for Welsh. As a nurse at Jefferson Frankford Hospital, he often sees shooting victims who are rushed to the emergency room. In addition, his mother was fatally shot in Wissinoming in the 1980s as part of a domestic incident.

“This is unacceptable,” Welsh said. ••

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