The execution-style shooting death of a North Philadelphia corner store employee was described by a neighbors as a hit on a woman who didn’t bend to drug dealers.
Reyna Aguirre-Alonso, who police identified as Rosemary Fernandez-Rivera, 33, was shot four times by a man wearing a ski mask inside El Caribe Grocery at 3300 Mutter St., detectives said.
The shooter wordlessly passed two other employees and did not announce a robbery before opening fire at 7:48 p.m. The motive for the killing is unknown, police said.
But Greg Bucceroni of Crime Victim Services, whose office is less than a block away from the store where the murder occurred, believes the intent of the shooting was clear: to send a message against police cooperation. Bucceroni said his organization reached out to neighbors, including Rivera, to participate in violence reduction efforts.
Rivera agreed, calling 911 on criminals hanging in front of the grocery and warning them to find another spot. “She was fed up with illegal drug transactions and dealers hanging out in front of the store,” Bucceroni said. “It was impacting her business — customers were not coming in because they were afraid to walk past the drug dealers.
He believes she was targeted because of her efforts to drive the dealers away. “Because she got involved, she was murdered,” Bucceroni said. “There’s so much drug and gang activity here that the residents are overwhelmed. Law abiding citizens are hostages of urban terrorists.”
Bucceroni said that, since the young woman's murder, he's already received about 75 phone calls from frightened community members who want nothing to do with the anti-violence campaign or even community cleanups.
“Neighbors are scared, real scared,” he said. “Every time they call the police for some reason, even Homicide, they come to their house. It puts the ones who cooperate at high risk.”
Neighbors remembered Aguirre-Alonso as a generous woman who often gave needy patrons leeway when it came time to pay. “Everybody feels traumatized,” said Molta DeJesus. “Everybody was a customer, everybody is a neighbor, everybody watches out for everyone else. But don’t get it twisted — I don't trust anyone.”
The remarks came as rumors swirled yesterday that Alonso was a cooperating witness in the Nov. 25 shooting of 22-year-old Luis Omar Chevere across the street from the store. Bucceroni said that Alonso mentioned seeing the slaying, but did not know if she was working with investigators.
Family members reportedly said that Alonso had recently been taken to identify possible shooters in the case. A warrant was issued Monday for Jorge Aldea, 22.
Police declined to comment on whether the two incidents were related.