PHILADELPHIA. A piece of cardboard didn’t stick out in the garbage-filled vacant lot along the North Philadelphia corner until Debbie Crosland lifted it to reveal a deep puddle of her teenage son’s thick, red blood.
Brian Crosland, 18, died there in the muddy lot next to a partially collapsed house at Taney Street and West Montgomery Avenue 10 hours earlier. Gunmen robbed him of at least his coat and cell phone around 4:30 a.m., police and family said.
“They tried to rob him. It’s like neighborhood stick up boys,” neighborhood resident Yasmin Sterling said standing across Montgomery Avenue from the lot.
His mother Debbie Crosland described him as a “person who would give you the shirt off his back” and that he was working toward a GED.
But some in Philadelphia may remember him from a high-profile slaying in 2006, when Crosland was allegedly with five other boys, ranging in age from 13 to 16, who went into a white neighborhood in nearby Fairmount with the goal of robbing someone, according to published reports.
Crosland and three of the boys had charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault withdrawn. The teenager charged with the shooting was eventually acquitted of murder but found guilty of gun possession charges.
Police yesterday said they were investigating Crosland’s murder as a robbery turned fatal.