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West Philly bartender allegedly gunned down by licensed gun-owner

Man who allegedly interrupted domestic argument with a gun now charged with murder.
Joseph Howanski, 24, left, is charged with murder for shooting Merlos Mukaj, 21. (PPD/Provided)

A Drexel University graduate and gun owner with a concealed-carry license is accused of murder for shooting an Albanian immigrant who lived just around the corner from him.

But it is unknown whether Joseph Howanski, 24, a Drexel grad from the 3800 block of Hamilton Street, knew he was neighbors with the man for whose bloody death on Nov. 28 he is now charged with murder.

The victim, Merlos Mukaj, 21, was reportedly arguing with his girlfriend near 35th Street and Lancaster Avenue on Wednesday night when he allegedly encountered Howanski around 11:40 p.m.

Howanski reportedly approached the couple as they argued on the sidewalk. Witnesses told 6ABC they saw the two men confront and push each other before shots were fired.

Mukaj, of the 3800 block of Spring Garden, was shot several times in the chest, and was pronounced dead at 11:52 p.m. His girlfriend, 22, was uninjured.

Friends identified Mukaj as a bartender at Dahlak Paradise in West Philly who came to the US for his education and graduated from Gloucester County Community College in New Jersey. A Gofundme has been created for his family.

"He was the first of his family to complete college and his family had a lot invested in his education," wrote friends who have started a Gofundme in his honor. "Please help us raise funds to support his younger brother coming to the US and completing a degree."

Friends remembered him on social media as a victim of a "senseless act."

"He was a genuinely kind person who made everyone around him laugh and always had my back. He was selfless and compassionate," one wrote. "It was an honor to have known him."