Gunmen break in as family sleeps, shoot at parents in Strawberry Mansion

Philadelphia police are still looking for a motive in the early morning home invasion attack that left a man dead and his wife in critical condition in Strawberry Mansion.

Police said two male suspects entered a home on the 3200 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue shortly before 4 a.m. Sherrell Paul, 39, heard the men enter and went to the top of the stairs, where she was shot eight to 10 times.

Her husband, John Paul, then responded and got into a physical confrontation with at least one of the suspects when he was shot multiple times.

Police said the suspects then fled the house and got into a black vehicle driven by a third man.

Investigators found blood outside the house and believe one of the suspects was wounded in the lower body, possibly during the struggle or as they fled.

The couple’s two children, estimated to be ages 6 and 10, heard the shots and called 911, but they were unharmed, police said.

Homicide Capt. James Clark said nothing appeared to be taken from the home, and would not rule out a case of mistaken identity.

“Right now it’s a mystery to us. We don’t know why they were targeted, but we’re hopeful to get these individuals in custody,” Clark said at a press conference yesterday.

He described the victims as law-abiding citizens, both of whom worked in the health care field, though the husband had recently been laid off.

“He seemed to be a good, upstanding person, [a] nice family man,” Clark said. “Their lifestyle didn’t indicate that they would be victims of this type of crime.”

Family members removing belongings from the house yesterday declined to comment.

One man, who would not identify himself, said “they were great people.”

John Paul was pronounced dead at the scene. Sherrell Paul was listed in critical but stable condition at Temple University Hospital.

Family and friends who gathered at the scene last night said he drove a paratransit vehicle and she was a RN.

“He took up two jobs so she could go to school,” said a woman who identified herself as a cousin of John Paul. “He worked hard to take care of his family.”

Neighbors said they were not aware of the vics, who were longtime residents here, having any problems with other neighbors. Many said they did not hear the gunshots.

There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

What cops know

There were no signs of forced entry, so they believe the victims could have known their attackers.

Police are not aware of the couple’s involvement in any illegal activity. Neighbors have described them as good people and loving parents.

One of the gunmen may have shot himself during the struggle inside the bedroom. Police don’t believe the victims had a gun.

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