Neighbors fear retaliation after New Year’s slaying in West Philadelphia

Gunned down only 30 minutes after the ball dropped at midnight on Jan. 1, 16-year-old Jaymire Rustin was Philadelphia’s first homicide victim of 2013.

Now, residents near the 5600 block of Carpenter Street in West Philadelphia, where Rustin’s life was taken as he left a party, worry his death may lead to still more violence.

“We have people who are scared to come out of their homes now,” said a neighbor who asked only to be identified as Miss Jones. She said that she rarely ventures out after dark. “It was a senseless murder, senseless. I know all about it and I know people who were out there and saw him get shot. It was a fight and then retaliation – and now there’s going to be more retaliation.”

She said that just last night, a group of people seeking retribution showed up near 52nd Street and Baltimore Avenue. “Now innocent people’s lives are going to be in danger,” she said. “I have two sons and my family owns a boxing gym. Young people need to learn how to use their hands in the right way and think before they react.”

An all-too-familiar memorial of teddy bears, posterboard and candles continued to grow this afternoon near the patch of lawn where Rustin was slain. Residents of the home asked that its identifying details not be disclosed, as they too fear retaliation. “We have young children here,” one woman said.

“We been through so much and [I] cherished ever[y] moment that I really spent w/ you,” read one handwritten note posted on the lawn. “Jay you in a better place.”

Still more friends and family members shared memories of the teen on Facebook, where a page called “RIP Jaymire Rustin” had over 200 likes this afternoon.

“Sadly, so many people lives are now shattered because someone wanted something that didn’t belong to them and when they couldn’t have it, they took the ultimate thing ~ THE GIFT OF LIFE from JAYMIRE RUSTIN,” one mourner wrote. “And sadly instead of his mother going out to buy something for his upcoming 17th birthday, instead she will mourning the pain of a TREMENDOUS LOSS, HER SON!”

Jones said she’s not confident that her neighborhood will see less killings in 2013. “The only thing I can say is we need to get these guns off the street and parents need to be more involved in their children’s lives,” she said. “He was only 16 and he didn’t deserve to die like that.”

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