A Temple University student exchanged gunfire early yesterday with an alleged would-be robber while defending himself from a stickup, according to police, and both the student and the would-be robber were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
Police plan to press charges against the 15-year-old for the incident with the student identified in reports as Robert Eells, 21, of Bucks County.
But neighbors on Eells’ North 12th Street block told a different story.
“We’ve tried to have conversations with them, but these kids were basically on a racial tension thing,” said one resident who would only identify herself as Brenda, 50. She said she is block captain of the 2300 block of North 12th Street where the shooting took place.
Other neighbors added that the Temple tenants often hung out late on their stoop smoking and drinking.
“What was he doing sitting out here with a gun at two o’clock in the morning?” said Teandra Wilkins, 31, who heard more gunshots Monday morning than she could count.
Wilkins claims she saw police carry at least six guns out of Eells’ house after paramedics carted away his wounded body.
Police say Eells was shot in the abdomen and the 15-year-old was hit in the chest and leg, but neighbors contend the younger boy was shot from behind as he was running away.
“My understanding is that once the boy shot [Eells], he ran off,” said Wilkins. “If he was running away, why shoot him more than once in the back? A license to carry doesn’t give you the right to shoot people when they are no longer a threat.”
Temple police refused comment yesterday, as did a man who answered the door of Eells’ apartment.
“We’re all just trying to get our stuff together and get out,” said the man, who insisted he did not live at the residence.
As Temple University continues to expand, tensions between longtime area residents and students deepen.
“The neighborhood is overpopulated with students and it’s starting to affect the community,” block captain Brenda said. “I absolutely feel like the police care more about the safety of Temple students than they do about other residents.”
She plans to organize a protest against the perceived injustice.
“I’ve called Temple police more than three or four times in the past few weeks about [Eells’] house,” she said. “It’s like they heard me, but didn’t listen.”
“Our neighbors like us and we like our neighbors,” responded Temple student Alex, who lives off campus. “But if you live on Dauphin, that’s your fault. There are no students there.”