Communities look for answers in wake of shooting
In the wake of the fatal shooting that took place last month in North Hills, residents and community officials from Abington and Upper Dublin townships gathered at the North Penn VFW Post 676 in Glenside Monday for the citizens’ forum “Bridging the Communities.”
The meeting was organized by the Bridging the Communities Coalition, which is made of local organizations who want to unite the North Hills and Crestmont communities following the July 17 shooting of Crestmont resident William Butler, 27, at the North Hills train station. Andre Dula, 21, of 800 block of North Hills Avenue, North Hills, is charged with killing Butler.
“If we don’t do something and something else should happen, then shame on us,” said Abington Township Commissioner Stephen Kalinoski, of North Hills, prior to the meeting.
According to reports, Butler and Dula were engaged in an ongoing feud prior to the shooting.
The day of the incident, Butler, his brother and a mutual friend went on a drive to look for Dula and found him walking at the North Hills train station. Butler got out the vehicle and allegedly threw a bottle at Dula and then threw a pouch at him. Dula than reached for his pocket and allegedly pulled out a gun. Butler ran from Dula up a nearby hill and Dula allegedly shot Butler.
Butler was transported to Abington Memorial Hospital by a friend, where he was pronounced dead an hour later. Autopsy reports showed that Butler died of a gun shot wound to the back.
Kalinoksi said the premise of the “Bridging the Communities” meeting was to bring the communities together to heal and to show them the positive things that are available in their community.
During the meeting Abington police Chief William Kelly assured residents that the continued goal of the police department is to make the community safe and encouraged residents to contact 1-877-APD-Tips, Abington’s anonymous tip line, to report any crime they witness in the area.
“We want to formulate more part- nerships with the community,” said Upper Dublin Deputy Chief Lee Benson. “We can’t do it alone. Our mission is to reduce crime however we can.”
Abington Township Commissioner Wayne Luker encouraged residents to take action to keep “this tragedy from destroying the community.”
Luker recalled a time when Crestmont and North Hills had football leagues. He said that there has not been a male orchestrated football team in Crestmont since in 2001. He encouraged the men in the community to start a community football team and baseball team and encouraged the women to begin a Girl Scout troop.
“Don’t sit back,” said Luker. “To get something you have to make it happen.”
Residents had the opportunity to pose questions to Kelly, Benson, Luker, Kalinoski and other community leaders who were present.
The Rev. Mirriam Burnett, pastor of the New Bethel African Methodist Church in Willow Grove, moderated the discussion.
Some residents wanted to know what could be done to create a community center in Crestmont.
Luker said that one of key factors preventing Crestmont from having a community center was funding. He encouraged residents “to go to where the programs were,” by connecting with local organizations and getting involved in the programs they offered.
Other residents were concerned about graffiti that said “free Dula” at the North Hills train station.
Deputy Chief John Livingood said that police have made a report and are investigating the vandalism. He also said SEPTA had been notified and that it is going to remove it as quickly as possible.
Other residents wanted to know what types of programs were available for young adults who live in the communities.
Representatives from organizations such as Saturday Sisters, Abington Community Taskforce, Abington-Ambler Kappa Alpha Psi duide Right program, Citizens and Police Together, Crestmont Safe Haven, the Willow drove NAACP, churches from Abington, North Hills and Jenkintown, and other organizations outlined the types of programs and services they offered.
Following the meeting, some residents said that they thought the forum was positive and helpful.
“I was defiantly concerned when I heard about the shooting,” said Ardsley resident Anthony Notariam. “[This meetingz was good for the community.”
“I [came herez to obtain more information about outreach ministries; it was very informative,” said North Hills resident Juanita Veney. “It was very positive and I was glad to see the support from [the organizationsz. What was an ugly [situationz has been turned into something beautiful for the community.”