A quiet neighborhood in East Germantown was the scene of a homicide Monday when, shortly after 4 p.m., a canvasser for OnePA political PAC shot and killed another canvasser who worked for the same organization. The group was canvassing for progressive candidates, including former city council member Helen Gym.
Canvassers, who can be paid or volunteers, pass out literature for candidates or causes door-to-door. Sometimes they also ask for signatures on petitions.
No charges have been brought against the 22-year-old who fired the shot that killed Eddie Brokenbaugh, 46, said Officer Tonya Little, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Police Department.
The younger man, whose name was not released because he was not charged, told police he fired his weapon in self-defense after Brokenbaugh pulled a gun on him.
The shooter was licensed to carry a weapon and waited at the scene for police to arrive. Brokenbaugh’s gun was illegal.
The two apparently had a long-standing beef, officials said.
While far-left mayoral candidate Helen Gym said the workers were not part of her campaign, they were canvassing on her behalf through OnePA.
“I was devastated to hear about the tragic death of a canvasser today,” Gym posted on Twitter. “My thoughts are with the victim’s family, the OnePA community, and everyone impacted by this irrevocable loss. Though the canvasser was not part of our campaign, this loss is deeply felt by all of us.”
OnePA tweeted: “Today, a One PA team member tragically lost their life. We are heartbroken, and our condolences and sympathy are with their family. We are mourning this senseless loss and continuing to gather the facts and investigate what happened.”
While Gym says the canvasser was not working for her campaign, OnePA has a pinned tweet about Gym reading: “In just 9 days, we get to make HERSTORY by getting @HelenGymPHL elected as #Phillys100thMayor. Helen believes in restoring the village back to our city. It takes a village to continue to care for and support each other; it also takes a village to ..”
OnePA’s co-director had worked for Gym when she served on the city council, according to media reports.
@BigTrialBlog posted a picture of Brokenbough posing with Gym and other campaign workers on Twitter, saying, “‘Not part of our campaign:’ Here’s Helen Gym posing with campaign workers, including Eddie Brokenbough, the ex-felon who was packing an illegal gun when he was shot dead by another campaign worker.”
Gym has claimed that if elected, she would declare a state of emergency and focus all city departments on community safety. She wants to convene a task force with city, state, and federal officials to combat illegal guns, improve 911 response times and prioritize mental health services.
“Helen Gym is putting her gun control plans into action, but perhaps a little too close to home,” said Albert Eisenberg with BlueState/Red.
The Gym campaign did not respond when asked to comment.
Sage Cruz, co-executive director of One PA said, “Philadelphia’s ban the box law prohibits employers from asking about criminal history during the application process, and One PA complies with that law. We’re not going to dredge through the past of a man who has died while there is an active investigation underway. We are processing the loss of a loved member of our community who is no longer here and are asking that people give our community and his family space to grieve and give investigators a chance to do their work.
“Both individuals involved in this tragedy were paid temporary canvassers who had worked with our organization previously, the older man from 2021 and the younger from 2022,” she added.
OnePA responded to DVJournal’s requests for comment.
However, judging by the lawn signs, the canvassers did not seem to have made many inroads on the Church Lane block before their deadly encounter.
Several residents where the shooting occurred had signs for another candidate, Charelle Parker. A placard for Gym was affixed to a light pole near a corner bodega.
Two young men inside the bodega declined to comment.
“I think it’s crazy, for what it’s worth,” said one man, who did not want to share his name. “Nobody’s life is worth a disagreement.” That man had lived at his Church Lane house for 50 years. “I’m glad I wasn’t home (when the shooting happened),” he said.