Bustleton meeting covers Verree Road party investigation updates

Capt. Robert Ritchie, commander of the 7th Police District, provided follow-up information about the Aug. 3 party at 9109 Verree Road that got out of hand and resulted in two gunshot injuries.

Greater Bustleton Civic League’s September meeting was packed with so many updates about the infamous Verree Road party, the Red Lion Road warehouse and a zoning issue that it ran until the literal last minute the association could use the building.

Capt. Robert Ritchie, commander of the 7th Police District, followed up with the association about the ill-fated Aug. 3 Verree Road party after holding a special meeting about the party back in August. The property at 9109 Verree Road hosted and advertised a party where two young women ended up getting shot.

The party started as early as 11 a.m. that day. Police responded to a call at 6:36 p.m. and arrived on the scene two minutes later. Complaints about the party included marijuana, men urinating, people block traffic, fighting and underage drinking. After another call at 7:33 p.m., officers remained on location until 8:42 p.m., which is when shots being fired were first reported.

“In the moments prior to 8:42 p.m., they were coordinating getting ready to shut the party down,” Ritchie told the Times after the meeting. He said the party organizers and officers had mutually agreed to shut the party down before.

A 22-year-old woman was shot in the thigh, hitting her femoral artery. Officers applied a tourniquet after finding her laying under a tree in the backyard in the dark, losing consciousness and her pulse three separate times, Ritchie said. The officers then sped her to the hospital, using the plastic backseat in the police vehicle to perform CPR and chest compressions.

“I got a beautiful letter from the head trauma surgeon that one of my sergeants and two of my officers saved that girl’s life,” Ritchie said.

Two people at the party with guns were arrested on the scene, though officers are still looking for the person and weapon that shot the woman. A 20-year-old woman was also shot, though her injuries were not as serious.

Police arrested Joseph Richardson, 36, of Lawndale, for his role in organizing the party. He was charged with illegal beer and alcohol sales, reckless endangerment of another person and disorderly conduct. Ritchie strongly urged anyone impacted by the party to follow the case on phila.courts.gov and show up at the court date to make their stories heard.

“Think of how powerful that is if we all arrive at the Criminal Justice Center together and we all walk in hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, saying this is our community, this was disrupted, completely turned upside down, made me feel and live in fear, and you know what? We’re tired of that,” Ritchie said.

The owner of the home had made the legal decision to loan the house out to Richardson, Ritchie said.

Ritchie said the house had never previously been on the police’s radar. Only one 911 call relating to the property had been made in the last 10 years, and it was related to a fire.

“It now has my full attention,” he said.

Ritchie also reported he conducted a full internal investigation into the matter, which resulted in two disciplinary charges being filed against the supervisor who had responded to the double shooting incident who had not followed an order.

Members of the audience thanked Ritchie and the police for their service, with one little girl bringing a thank you note up to Ritchie during his speech.

In other news:

Neighbors took part in another lengthy discussion about a zoning variance for 1075 Welsh Road, which previously presented back in April. Neighbors voted 17-7 to support the erection of a two-story building at the location despite the plans coming about 10 feet short of the required 35-foot setback from the road. Neighbors cited traffic and appearance as possible concerns for the property.

Again discussing the lack of information about the warehouse proposed at 1 Red Lion Road, GBCL president Jack O’Hara is planning a second informational meeting with the Somerton Civic Association concerning the property. Elected officials and the public will be invited. An Inquirer article mentioned that UPS is a possible tenant of the property.

“We have yet to be asked our opinion or given an overview of what’s coming in,” O’Hara said.

GBCL meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at American Heritage Federal Credit Union, 2060 Red Lion Road.