Com­mu­ni­ties look for an­swers in wake of shoot­ing

Times Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Jar­reau Free­man

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.”

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