As with so many of the victims of gun violence in Philadelphia, Lance Wilson was a young Black man at the beginning of his life — and like all of those other victims, the promise of his life will never be realized.
His life ended when a bullet slammed into his back on Nov. 4, leaving his family and friends distraught and brokenhearted and, because his murder is still an open case, waiting for justice to be done. As of Tribune press time there have been 299 murders in Philadelphia including Wilson’s and more than 80 percent of them have been committed with illegal firearms, law enforcement experts say.
“Sometimes I can’t believe he’s dead,” said Wilson’s mother, Nicole Edwards, who was barely able to hold back her tears as she spoke. “It’s like his death doesn’t seem real. It’s horrible, just horrible. And he was a good boy, I know everyone says that about their kids, but Lance really was. He was the kind of young man who would do anything to help the people he cared about. He was in high school, ready to graduate and move on. None of that will happen now.”
According to Edwards, her son had gone to a nearby Chinese food restaurant in the 700 block of West Jefferson Street. It was late afternoon and Wilson, along with two female friends and a male friend were waiting for their order. After he got his shrimp rolls, Wilson was supposed to come straight home, since the next day he had to go to school. He stepped outside and was talking with his friend when someone began shooting. His other friends were still in the store and were lying on the floor as bullets tore into the front of store. Wilson began running and his friends reported they saw him running, with the shooters right after him.
“Apparently they were really close up on him,” Edwards said. “He ran into a vacant lot and that’s when they got him. He never had a chance.”
According to the police reports, the incident happened at 5:15 p.m. in the 700 block of West Jefferson Street, in the city’s Northern Liberties section. Wilson, who is from the 1100 block of North Third Street, was struck in the back by gunfire and was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital where he was pronounced dead by physicians at 5:35 p.m. As of Tribune press time, police haven’t made any arrests, but they have determined that the motive was an argument. Wilson, who attended Kensington Business School, didn’t have a history of run-ins with the police.
Edwards was at home when she got the call from her son’s girlfriend that he had been shot. She said it felt as though a piece of her soul had been ripped away. Since Wilson’s murder, his family and friends have been holding a candlelight vigil every Sunday at 6th and Master Street.
“When she told me, I couldn’t believe it,” Edwards said. “I asked if he was dead, but I had no idea whether he was or not until I got to the hospital. To this day, it just doesn’t seem real. Some days I’m just numb because of this. I have so many unanswered questions. Who did this to him and why did they do it? His friends said it happened so fast they didn’t get a good look at the people who were shooting. There are so many cases like this in the city, so many murders and so many of the murderers are still walking around. People take things from you and don’t even think about the harm they cause. All I want is justice for my son.”
As with all murders in Philadelphia, there is a standing reward of $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Anyone with information should call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334.