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Fatal Shooting at Roxborough High Shakes DelVal Sports Community

The Roxborough High School community is reeling after a 14-year-old football player died Tuesday afternoon. Nicholas Elizalde and four other juveniles, three of them teammates, were ambushed in a drive-by shooting. It happened at the school following a football scrimmage involving Roxborough and Northeast and Boys Latin.

Elizalde of Haverford Township in Delaware County was a student at Saul High School, a magnet school that does not have a football team. He played at Roxborough under a co-op arrangement between the two schools allowed by PIAA rules.

The other victims, two 14-year-olds, a 15-year-old, and a 17-year-old, were hospitalized.

The impact of Tuesday’s incident was felt throughout the Delaware Valley high-school sports community. Alan Nicholl is a science teacher at Council Rock South High School in Northampton Township, Bucks County. He has also been the boys’ soccer coach since the school opened 21 years ago.

Tuesday’s tragedy hit Nicholl hard.

“It’s disturbing,” he said. “Schools are a place of safety. Schools are a place we’re supposed to come and feel comfortable and feel safe. That should never come into question.

“As an educator and as a parent myself, there’s nothing more important than the safety of our kids. And when you see something like this happen, it should be outrageous to everybody. It’s unacceptable.”

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said he was praying for the victims and their families and, “Praying for change.”

The investigation is ongoing. The shooting occurred shortly after 4:30 Tuesday afternoon as players, coaches, and spectators were leaving the field.

Five assailants got out of a Ford Explorer parked near the field and began firing shots. Authorities said they do not believe Elizalde was the target of the attack; they said they think the 17-year-old victim was.

The vehicle believed used in the attack was eventually recovered in South Philadelphia. It was reported stolen in Delaware County, police said.

Though Tuesday’s incident was one of at least three that have occurred at high school football games, it was the first involving gun violence. In August of last year, a shooting following a football game between host Academy Park and Pennsbury took the life of an 8-year-old Sharon Hill girl. Three police officers are awaiting trial in that incident.


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Residents Shocked, Afraid at Road Rage Murder in Springfield Township

Gunfire cut through the sound of rush hour traffic Wednesday morning on South State Road near Washington Lane in Springfield Township.

An apparent road rage shooting that took the life of a 54-year-old man also took the suburban area’s sense of safety and normalcy, shocking residents of the Delaware County bedroom community.

Bystanders told police the victim was killed for driving too slowly in the left lane. Officers responding found a white Toyota with a bullet hole in the windshield and the body of the victim, Kim Hua, according to an affidavit. Hua’s wife was a passenger and witnessed the shooting.

Hua was pronounced dead at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, the affidavit said. Investigators found two 9mm shell casings at the scene.

Witnesses said a dark SUV driven by a woman had pulled to the side of the road. A male leaned out of the passenger window and fired at the Toyota.

Officers arrested Saddiq Washington, 22, of Darby on Friday. He is being held on first and third-degree murder charges, possession of an instrument of crime, and reckless endangerment according to the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.

Residents who spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal were distraught over the senseless shooting.

“Every time I look at the paper and see something like that I’m shocked. I’ve lived a long time and… this is the worst I’ve seen in decades,” said Maurice Eldridge.

Some were concerned that the violence spike hitting Philadelphia could be reaching into the suburbs. One woman said, “I think [the crime spike in Philadelphia] is definitely having an effect on things.”

“I don’t really think it’s the crime spike in Philadelphia truthfully. I think it’s absurd how little we’re doing for gun control in this country,” said resident Susan R. “Congress has finally passed something but if we don’t start doing more we’re going to keep seeing more and more of this senseless violence.”

Cynthia Weiss, another resident, said she was devastated by this most recent incident.

“It’s a scary thing. I think it’s going to continue to happen as long as angry and disturbed people have such easy access to guns. It needs to change,” Weiss said.

At a press conference Friday, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer praised the work of the officers and detectives for making an arrest within 48 hours of the shooting. He also thanked the public for coming forward with tips.

“This was a senseless brutal act,” Stollsteimer said.

The suspect, Washington, had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and had purchased the gun legally.  The woman driving the car was the defendant’s mother, Stollsteimer said. She is under investigation. No charges have been filed against her.

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Urban Navigation: Helping to End Youth Violence in DelVal Communities

Kids are shooting kids.

In Philadelphia, the 2021 murders were the highest in decades—562. And as of Feb. 10, 55 people have been murdered this year. People point fingers at city officials and the state legislature, the police, and the schools. But who is doing something to help?

Enter Urban Navigation.

This new organization, founded by Don Jackson and Hameen Diggins, is stepping up to get kids on the right track and keep them there. Already operating in Philadelphia, they are in talks with the City of Chester, Collingdale, Upper Darby, and Ardmore to bring Urban Navigation to the suburbs.

Jackson, a founder of the Philadelphia Technician Training Institute, said the technical school is for students 18 and older and teaches them skills to get good-paying jobs.

Don Jackson (left) and Hameen Diggins

But with the rising crime rate, he decided that younger kids needed guidance and to learn some skills, too.

“There’s a rise in all the gun activity,” said Jackson. “So what we did was we started looking at younger kids, and what we understand is getting to them while they’re still at the stage that they haven’t graduated to the next level of stuff.”

Urban Navigation teaches kids technical skills, like fixing their bicycles, fixing small motor machines like dirt bikes or ATVs, and gun safety.

“You know, they’re riding down the street, doing wheelies or whatnot, and kids are very much into bicycles,” he said. “Just peddling, 50 kids peddling.”

Jackson said they have also worked to get groups of young ATV riders that plague Philadelphia streets into areas where it is safe and legal to ride those vehicles. They use “media, music, videography…everything that basically attracts our youth. And social media. We developed a virtual reality platform.”

“We give them conflict resolution training,” said Jackson.

Diggins said, “We saw the need when it came to the youth culture, to give them a voice. So we knew how to help them.”

Diggins’ own experiences of being raised in foster care and group homes help him relate to the underprivileged kids, he said. He survived a difficult childhood and is now a nurse, a photographer, a DJ, and a certified life coach.

“Gun violence is out of control,” said Diggins. “We give them a reason not to shoot, to give them an alternative by having gun safety education.”

The kids already have guns, he said. “We focus on the value of life. We have to give youth a reason not to shoot each other. If they value themselves, they value others.”

“There is a lot of misplaced anger,” Diggins said. “We try to give them a different way to look at things.”

“A lot of this is them trying to be seen,” he said.

Urban Navigation has programs for kids from 8 to 19.

If their parents are not present in kids’ lives, through dads abandoning the family or mothers on drugs, “the street becomes the parent,” and the kids join gangs. Urban Navigation combats that by offering positive activities, he said.

Learning to fix things is helpful. The kids then “understand their hands can be used for a lot more than violence.”

Jackson said, “We deal with a lot of trauma in these young kids. They’re going through broken homes. They got a single parent; maybe one of their parents passed away. They got an older sibling getting ready to go to jail.”

“We want to teach these kids how to be productive citizens,” said Jackson. “We involve them in after-school activities. We’ll teach you how to repair the power sports, as well.

Jackson said they’ve invested $200,000 of their own money to get the nonprofit, up and running. To keep the kids safe, all of the adults working with them go through criminal background checks.

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