On Saturday night, Alelisa Stephens received a call from her niece, asking if she was OK. There was a shooting on Montgomery Avenue, her niece told her, just a block away from where Stephens works as a residential aide.
Stephens told her niece that she was safe; she was at home elsewhere in North Philly when Temple Police Officer Chris Fitzgerald was killed. But that temporary safety offered her no comfort when she heard the news.
“When I come out my house, I pray.”
“He lost his life trying to help and this is the thanks he got. It’s pitiful,” Stephens said. From the porch of the home where she works, Stephens explained how she has no choice whether or not to feel safe in the area.
“I have to. When I come out my house, I pray. Can’t stay locked up in your house because you’re scared to go outside. I have a job.”
Elijah Ward, a Temple student, opened his phone Saturday night to see several missed calls from his mom, dad, and sister. The shooting “was quite literally outside my front door,” he said. Ward doesn’t normally walk around his neighborhood with fear, but violence coming so close to his home made him afraid.
“You always still have that thought in the back of your mind,” he said. “You always got to be vigilant.”
Stephens and Ward are just a couple of the many people living and working in the neighborhoods around Temple University. Violence and public safety are always top of mind for these community members, but especially so in the days since Fitzgerald was killed after attempting to stop a carjacking.