A lawyer representing the man accused of firing his gun during a verbal dispute at a Southwest Philly rec center teen basketball game says his client acted in self defense.
“He felt that we was about to be jumped by about 15 to 20 people, all of whom were on opposite sides,” said Eugene Tinari, who represents Maurice Tavares, of Chester.
Tavares, 26, turned himself in Monday after Philadelphia police issued a warrant for his arrest.
Tinari said his client, who has a license to carry the gun, fired into the air after being backed into a corner.
“He acted within the bounds of the law,” Tinari said. “He had a right to defend himself.”
A 45-year-old coach from the opposing team told police that he and Tavares — whose teen charges were winning but facing pressure from a mounting comeback — had a verbal dispute during a Saturday afternoon basketball game for 14 to 16-year-olds at the Christy Recreation Center.
When the 45-year-old coach went to diffuse the situation, he said Tavares had started to exchange profanities with him. A spectator jumped into the argument. Tavares told the spectator to “shut up” then told the opposing coach to walk away.
At that point, Tavares pulled a pistol from his waistband and, while walking backwards, fired a single shot, according to police. He then walked out the door and fled.
Nobody was injured, but frightened spectators ran for cover.