Sunshine illuminates the well-kept rowhouse block in West Philly’s Mill Creek neighborhood. It’s recess at James Rhoads Elementary School, and kids are outside hula-hooping, jumping rope and playing football. A crossing guard rests on a stoop. At LPC Grocery, men in line discuss their lottery success. “I hit for 27 and for 25 in the span of two months,” one brags. But it was just about a year ago that two men walked into this store, then known as Porfi Grocery or, sometimes, Lorena’s, and shot owner Porfirio Nuñez, his wife, Carmen, and his sister Lina Sanchez to death.
Lina’s son Javish Sanchez, 29 years old when his mother was killed, stands behind the counter today. “I’ve [told people] that I’m 100 percent good. But I’ve noticed that I need help,” he admits. “There’s too much violence going on in my head right now — I guess, hate, because somebody got rid of my family.”
Sanchez, who has worked at the store for three years, is pleased that the men who allegedly murdered his family members, Ibrahim Muhammed and Nalik Shariff Scott, have been arrested and charged.
But it was hard to come back to work in the very place his mother was killed. “When I took the bodies home and then came back to open the gates up, it was bad.”
After the murders, the business was sold to his sister’s ex-husband.
Dante, 23, hanging out on his bike nearby, says he still doesn’t understand why the killers shot not only the man but the two women. And all for what, $500? “That’s corny. When you do good, bad stuff still happens,” he says. “They was like family to this whole neighborhood.” The market is now named LPC in honor of the victims: Lina, Porfirio, Carmen. The counter’s bulletproof glass is lined with their photos.
At least 252 people have been murdered in Philly this year. There are dozens of stories of loss trailing behind every murder, and the media can tell only a few. And months and years later, when the cameras and reporters have moved on, the lives of friends and family continue — with gaping holes.
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