More than 200 people attended Thursday night’s special Bustleton Civic League meeting to hear details of the Aug. 3 Verree Road party that ended with two young women shot.
Capt. Bob Ritchie, commander of the 7th Police District, and Deputy Police Commissioner Joe Sullivan promised the crowd that criminal and civil charges are being pursued against people affiliated with the party and disciplinary action is coming against officers on the scene and at the district, along with 911 dispatchers.
Among those at the meeting were City Councilmen Brian O’Neill and Al Taubenberger, state Rep. Martina White, Republican mayoral candidate Billy Ciancaglini and aides to state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. and state Rep. Kevin Boyle.
Jack O’Hara, president of the Bustleton Civic League, introduced Ritchie, who explained that the party started as early as 11 a.m. The property at 9109 Verree Road has a huge back yard that includes a swimming pool. The party was catered, and there was a moonbounce on the front lawn.
Ritchie said the party flier was later shared on Instagram, and crowds began to flock there. Police responded to calls of double-parking at 6:32 p.m., and were on the scene four minutes later. Officers noticed a big crowd at 7:07 p.m., but Ritchie said they didn’t think the scene was big enough to shut down.
Eventually, officers heard 14 shots fired from the rear yard. At that point, party guests began fleeing.
Police noticed someone place a bag in a car. Upon investigation, they recovered a .357 Magnum. Since it was fully loaded, officers do not believe it was used in the shooting. The man who placed the gun in the car did not have a carry permit, and he was arrested.
Another man on the scene was smoking pot and in possession of a fully loaded 9-millimeter handgun. He did not have a carry permit, and was arrested.
The shooter has not been identified, and the weapon has not been located.
Ritchie was notified of the shootings, and responded to the scene, as officers locked down the area.
A 22-year-old woman was shot in the thigh, causing bleeding in the femoral artery, and officers applied a tourniquet and performed CPR to save her life as she went in and out of consciousness en route to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital.
A 20-year-old woman suffered a minor injury when she was shot in the calf.
Now, the focus is on the homeowner and organizers, with the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center checking out social media posts about the party.
“There are a lot more criminal charges coming out of this,” Ritchie said.
Neighbors complained of partygoers parking in driveways on the 700 block of Pecan Drive, a cloud of marijuana, men urinating, people blocking traffic, fighting, underage drinking, the disc jockey encouraging bad behavior and the city Office of Emergency Management failing to send out a robocall of the shooting.
“I would have pulled the plug at 7:15,” said off-duty Detective Ken Rossiter, who lives two houses from the home in question.
Rossiter spoke of the enormity of the party.
“There were 300 to 500 people there,” he said.
Ritchie said he is conducting an internal review of police action that night. He said he issued a “crystal clear” order to his officers last month that they should immediately alert him of any large gatherings.
“There will be disciplinary charges coming from the investigation,” he said.
Sullivan, who was joined by Staff Inspector Michael Cram, approached the microphone as neighbors began complaining, saying he would have confiscated the liquor and DJ equipment and not allowed anyone else in the party had he been on the scene.
“This wasn’t handled properly,” he said. “I am not the least bit happy. We dropped the ball.”
A woman complained of calling the district and being told that there was a lack of manpower, that the focus that night was keeping calm on South Street and, “People are allowed to have parties.”
“He asked me if the people in the yard were white, would I have an issue with the party,” she said, before being hung up on. A photo of the party appears to indicate the majority of the attendees were black.
Sullivan said Capt. Shawn Trush, commander of Northeast Detectives, is handling the criminal investigation.
“He is leaving no stone unturned,” he said.
Sullivan said police will report findings to the district attorney’s office, causing the crowd to grumble about DA Larry Krasner’s soft-on-crime reputation.
Sullivan described the house as a “speakeasy,” adding that David Perri, commissioner of the city Department of Licenses and Inspections, is involved in the civil investigation.
Ritchie promised more answers on Sept. 25, the date of the next Bustleton Civic League meeting. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at American Heritage Federal Credit Union, 2060 Red Lion Road.
Ritchie also addressed the shooting death the same night on the 1900 block of Conwell Ave.
The district commander explained that Sohan Panjrolia, 31, was watching a movie with his parents. At some point, he left the room and returned with a high-powered rifle and shot his dad four times in the head. Mahendra B. Panjrolia, 60, died instantly.
“It was God-awful,” Ritchie said of the scene.
The gunman fled with the rifle, and his abandoned car was found on the 9700 block of Clark St. Police searched the nearby woods, but there was no sign of the alleged killer.
Eventually, the suspect, a former student at Harvard, made an ATM transaction in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A camera captured an image of the car he was using, and he was arrested three days after the shooting. ••