News in brief: 3.29 Issue


Drew Katz and Melissa Silver filed a wrongful-death lawsuit over the May 31, 2014 plane crash that killed their father, the former Inquirer owner and Temple trustee Lewis Katz, and six others in Bedford, Massachusetts.

The case was filed in Suffolk County Court March 16. Eight defendants are listed, including Gulfstream Aerospace Corp, the aircraft manufacturer.

The Inquirer reported the family is seeking damages of more than $250 million, but stated that the exact amount will be determined at trial.

The suit claims that negligence and “manufacturing and/or designing a defective product” are at fault for the fatal crash, the Inquirer reported.

The Boston Globe reported the complaint stated that the two pilots, James McDowell and Bauke “Mike” de Vries, failed to disengage the gust lock before takeoff. The gust lock keeps the controls in place while the plane is parked, but can cause issues when the plane takes off.

The McDowell and DeVries estates are also listed as defendants in the case.

Additionally, the Boston Globe reported that the complaint stated a Rockwell Collins Inc. pin that secured the gust lock handle was found to be “substandard.”

-Lian Parsons


Activists organized by Cambria Advisory Group marched through North Philadelphia on Saturday to combat the recent spike in violence in the neighborhood.

In the area around Broad and Somerset streets, there were two deaths and two shootings in three days.

During the past month alone, the neighborhood near the intersection of Broad and Somerset streets has experienced 54 violent crimes.

Last Wednesday, there were 10 people shot throughout Philadelphia, mutiple news outlets reported.

There have been 62 homicides in the city as of Monday night, the highest total at this point of the year since 2012, police statistics show.

-Jonathan Gilbert

Shooting reported near Health Sciences Campus

An unidentified male shot a 24-year-old man in the calf and thigh while he was walking West on Westmoreland Street from Germantown Avenue near the Health Sciences Campus at 1:10 a.m. Tuesday, Temple Police said.

A TU Alert was issued about 1:30 a.m. cautioning students to stay away from the 1300 block of West Westmoreland Street.

Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said the victim could not give a description of the offender or where they ran to. He added the victim was taken to Temple University Hospital in stable condition.

Leone said the victim has had several run-ins with Temple Police for the past three years for disturbances around the hospital, like fighting and other incidents of assault.

“I believe he puts himself at risk wandering the streets late at night,” Leone said.

Julie Christie can be reached at or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

Gov. Wolf passes Pa. budget

Gov. Tom Wolf agreed today to allow the 2015-2016 budget to pass, ending a nearly nine-month-long budget impasse. The $6.6 billion budget was created by a Republican-controlled Congress, to feature no-new-taxes spending.

The bill will become law Sunday night.

Wolf was reluctant to sign the bill, but said he would allow it to pass earlier today during a press conference.

“This budget doesn’t work,” Wolf said during the press conference. “The math doesn’t work and that’s a real problem.”

“So I cannot in good conscience sign this bill I cannot in good conscience attach my name to a budget that simply does not add up,” he added. “But to allow us to move on to face budget challenges of 2016-17 I am going to allow HB1801 to become law.”

The budget will have a commonwealth allocation of $147 million, a 5 percent increase from the 2014-2015 budget, President Theobald said in a university statement. An additional $26 million will be allocated to Temple Health enterprises.

The lack of budget threatened a $175 million deficit for Temple and other closures throughout the state.

Theobald applauded the Temple community for more than 5,000 emails and hundreds of calls from students, faculty and alumni to put pressure on the state government for a budget and to avoid a deficit.

You let your voices be heard in Harrisburg and made a difference,” Theobald said in the statement.

Temple Advocates Legislative Outreach Network had been lobbying for the passage of a budget so the university would not have a large deficit.

Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at or on Twitter @gill_mcgoldrick.

News in brief: 3.22 Issue


A 22-year-old man was shot and critically wounded by police last Thursday, 6ABC reported.

The shooting occurred at 15th Street and Allegheny Avenue where undercover officers attempted to approach the suspect about a shooting.

The suspect initially fled from the undercover officers but after they caught up to him, he then pointed a gun at the officers.

“When officers caught up to the male, that’s when the male pulled a gun from his waistband, and pointed it at police,” said Chief Inspector Scott Small. “Officers ordered him to drop the gun. He refused.”

One of the officers fired at the suspect, hitting him in the torso and leg.

The suspect was transported to Temple University Hospital and is currently in critical  but stable condition.

Police discovered that the suspect is wanted on three warrants for fraud and absconding.

Officials will conduct an investigation, but they believe that the officer followed department protocol.

-Jonathan Gilbert


The Inquirer reports that federal espionage charges levied against a Temple physics professor last year will not be re-filed, effectively ending a legal battle with the federal government that attorney Peter Zeidenberg said had “been awful” for his client.

In May, prosecutors alleged that client, physics professor Xiaoxing Xi, sold secrets about superconductor research to individuals in China. The federal government withdrew charges in September, but indicated that they could revive the case in the future.

Xi is the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Physics at Temple and worked at Pennsylvania State University since 1995 before coming to Temple in 2014.

-Joe Brandt


The next phase of Temple’s brand campaign will be focused on Temple alumni who are innovators. The initial campaign, titled Take Charge, began in 2014 to launch Temple toward national recognition.

According to a university press release, this campaign will be shown on new advertisements that will appear on billboards, radio, TV and websites. These advertisements will include a diverse group of alumni who have contributed to ventures and solutions in the past.

Those who will be featured include a chemist who contributed to research that resulted in a HIV drug and an entrepreneur who created a jewelry line to help decrease violence against women.

The first phase of Take Charge included background of Temple and its story as an institution.

-Gillian McGoldrick


Multiple Temple graduate school programs have received higher rankings in U.S. News and World Report for 2017.

According to a university press release, these rankings are calculated by factors like employment rates, research activity and student-to-faculty ratios.

Beasley School of Law advanced to No. 50 in the Report’s Best Grad Schools. Tyler School of Art retained is spot within the top 15 graduate schools in the country for a fine arts ranking that is calculated every four years. Fox School of Business was also ranked among business schools, at No. 41.

Tyler School of Art had top-10 rankings for glass, painting and drawing and printmaking programs. Fox School of Business also saw rankings for its part-time MBA program at No. 16 and an information systems program ranked at No. 14.

College of Public Health, College of Engineering, School of Pharmacy, School of Social Work and Lewis Katz School of Medicine also had ranked programs in the Report by U.S. News.

Temple received its highest-ever ranking in 2016 from U.S. News, ranking No. 115 of Best Colleges.

-Gillian McGoldrick


The students at George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science mourned the loss of a classmate Wednesday afternoon.

Fifteen-year-old Jonathon Briggs died Tuesday of bacterial meningitis, a disease transmitted by close contact, 6ABC reported. The school informed students and parents they were not at risk.

6ABC reported the freshman was a member of the junior varsity basketball team, and that his coach plans to retire Briggs’ jersey, No. 44.

The high school held an informational meeting for parents Wednesday night who were concerned about the disease and wanted to learn more. That afternoon, students released balloons in memory of their classmate.

6ABC spoke to students who described Briggs as a “cool kid” who liked to joke around and have fun.

-Julie Christie

Assault reported west of Main Campus

A 22-year-old Temple student was punched in the face at about 11:10 p.m. Friday by an unknown man on the 1700 block of W. Oxford St., police said.

The man was described as 16-20 years old and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants, said Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone.

A TU Alert was sent out about the incident at around 12:10 a.m. Saturday, describing it as an assault.

The man stole the student’s black Samsung Galaxy phone before fleeing west on Oxford Street towards 18th Street, said Brandon Lausch, director of strategic marketing and communications. He added the student was taken to Temple University Hospital and given stitches for his cut lip from the punch.

Leone said police are looking at footage from the cameras from nearby private apartments.

Julie Christie can be reached at or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

News in brief: 3.15 Issue


The trial for football players Dion Dawkins and Haason Reddick was pushed back to Aug. 22 in a scheduled court appearance yesterday.

Both players were charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person in a Jan. 18, 2015 barroom altercation at Club 1800 in Northern Liberties.

James Funt, representing Dawkins, told common pleas Judge Charles A. Ehrlich the other defense attorney—Glenn Gilman,  who represents Reddick—was unavailable yesterday. Funt later told The Temple News it was for personal reasons.

“[Scheduling for] a lot of trials is like herding cats,” Funt said, but added the five-month delay should not have an effect on the trial.

Cameron Kline, spokesman and communications director for the Office of the District Attorney, said scheduling depends on availability of the judge and the defense and district attorneys.

“Each case is individual,” Kline said. “And as anxious as we are to get these done, some cases are faster than others.”

Earlier this month, Gilman said self-defense will be a “major issue” with helping Dawkins’ and Reddick’s case. Funt said the two football players were “peacemakers” in the altercation.

Both lawyers have also told The Temple News that eyewitness credibility was another important argument in the case.

“The challenge is overcoming the bias that people have about football players,” Funt said, adding people often get the impression football players are “naturally violent.”

“We have character witnesses that will prove these men are honest, law abiding citizens,” he said.

Funt said his goal is to get Dawkins and Reddick exonerated of all charges and later file to expunge their records, meaning they would not even have a record of arrest.

“We have to talk to 12 strangers and get them to see the heart and soul of these men,” Funt said, maintaining that Dawkins and Reddick did nothing wrong.

“They were simply present.”

-Julie Christie


A homicide case involving Brandon Meade—the 29-year-old from Upper Darby who is charged with the murder of 21-year-old finance student Agatha Hall—is scheduled to head to trial Sept. 19, according to court records.

According to a police affidavit completed by Philadelphia Police Det. Nordo Philip on Sept. 15, Philadelphia Police’s Homicide Unit interviewed two witnesses about the events on Aug. 31, where police found Hall dead in her apartment bedroom on York Street near Park Avenue.

The first witness told police she arrived at the apartment building at around 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 31, and encountered Meade when the witness and her boyfriend entered the building. Meade then went upstairs and started to bang on Hall’s bedroom door.

“Agatha, let me in,” the witness recalled Meade saying. “Agatha, I left my gun in there, let me in. I need to get my gun. If you don’t let me in I’m gonna get my peoples after you.”

The witness then told police she heard a gunshot. A few seconds later, Meade added, “Oh my god why did she do that?”

After an investigation by the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, Dr. Bruce H. Wainer determined Hall’s death to be a homicide.

A second witness was interviewed by Philadelphia Police’s Homicide Unit on Sept. 14. He told police he called Hall shortly after midnight Aug. 31, and that the conversation was short and ended with Hall stating, “I have to go, I have to go, I have to go.” He then got a call from her phone from an “irate male,” who talked in a threatening manner.

During the conversation, Hall said, “Don’t say anything,” which was then followed by a noise of someone being pushed and then a brief period of silence, according to the affidavit.

Evan Hughes, Meade’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.

-Steve Bohnel


Shakree Bennett, a 23-year-old from North Philadelphia, who was charged with sexually assaulting a 20-year-old student in September, had a status hearing yesterday morning according to court records.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Det. Edward Enriquez on Oct. 14, the student described the incident on Sept. 28 where she was sexually assaulted and robbed at gunpoint.

On Sept. 29, Philadelphia Police’s Special Victims Unit investigators reviewed footage of the area where the sexual assault occurred, according to the affidavit.

The following day, Det. James Owens interviewed a male witness who said he saw the sexual assault happen, and noticed the man was around 25 years old, had short hair and had a black goatee.

After police reviewed SEPTA footage and held a press conference about the assault, the man was identified as Bennett, according to police.

Interviews conducted by the Special Victims Unit during early October led to Bennett’s arrest. First, police interviewed State Parole Agent Ben Mallow, who said he recognized the man in the surveillance footage as Bennett because he was on state parole for robbery, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit stated that police were able to track Bennett to his brother’s house in Newark, New Jersey after talking with a drug informant at Broad Street and Erie Avenue and Bennett’s mother. An anonymous phone call on Oct. 6 led police to a house in Newark.

On Oct. 8, police found Bennett at his brother’s house hiding under a bed on the third floor, according to the affidavit. They also recovered a puffy jacket and black hat, seen on the man identified in surveillance video of the incident.

The next day, the student was shown photos of six African-American males. She picked out Bennett as the person who sexually assaulted her. He was arrested and charged with the sexual assault Oct. 14.

-Steve Bohnel

Car crashes into 7-Eleven near Johnson and Hardwick

Police gather near the scene where a car crashed into a 7-Eleven near Johnson and Hardwick Halls. | JULIE CHRISTIE TTN

Police gather near the scene where a car crashed into a 7-Eleven near Johnson and Hardwick Halls. | JULIE CHRISTIE TTN

UPDATE: Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said the customer was a 23-year-old male student, and was standing outside the building when he was hit.

He has a broken leg, but is “doing much better than anticipated,” Leone added.

“They’re still doing tests to find any other injuries, but they don’t see anything right now,” he said. “He’s immobilized but his family is with him right now. We’re just waiting at this point.”

Leone said the driver has been charged with driving under the influence, and police still are investigating what happened. His or her identity cannot be released yet because an arraignment has not yet occurred.

He added the other victim, a 7-Eleven employee, sustained minor injuries and has already been released from the hospital.

Two people were injured after a vehicle drove through the window next to the cashiers’ counter in the 7-Eleven on Broad and Diamond streets Saturday night.

At around 10:15 p.m. an employee and a customer were hit by the blue Toyota Corolla when its driver crashed through the window without using any brakes. The vehicle shattered the glass in the windows, bent the metal frame and pushed part of the counter back several feet.

The supervising officer at the scene, who declined to give his name, said one victim was standing outside the building and one inside. Both were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The car crashed through a window at 7-Eleven near Broad and Diamond streets. | ALISON CONRAD FOR TTN

The car crashed through a window at 7-Eleven near Broad and Diamond streets. | ALISON CONRAD FOR TTN

“There were already officers on the scene when it happened,” he said.

The driver, female, was under the influence and uninjured, he added. 

Amanda Ward, an undeclared freshman, was walking from White Hall down Broad Street with her friends when they saw the damage after the crash.

“We heard a noise like a flat tire that drew our attention,” Ward said, adding she saw a crowd had gathered outside the 7-Eleven. “There was a guy laying on the counter and someone in the crowd said he had a broken leg.”

Ward said the bumper had fallen off the car and there was antifreeze leaking onto the parking lot.

Police cleared the lot for cleanup and officers gathered inside the building to watch surveillance footage of the crash.

Julie Christie can be reached at or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

Shooting reported near HSC Tuesday night

Police are investigating a shooting that occurred on N. Park Avenue near W. Westmoreland Street Tuesday night.

Executive Director of Campus Safety Services said the victim was 19, and not a Temple student. After he was shot, police located him on Carlisle Street near Allegheny Avenue.

A TU Alert was sent out at about 6:15 last night.

Leone said the victim was being uncooperative at Temple University Hospital, where he remains in critical condition for a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

He added there may have been gunfire from both the victim and suspect—police are looking for both a male and female who could have been involved in the shooting.

Julie Christie can be reached at or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

News in brief: 3.8 Issue


Actress Tina Fey, best known for “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” promoted the Donald Fey Memorial Scholarship on the “Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.” The scholarship, established by Tina and her brother, Peter Fey, is in honor of her father, Donald Fey, who died Oct. 18, 2015.

The scholarship is specifically for military veterans applying to the journalism department, as a tribute to Donald’s service in the Korean War. Donald Fey was a 1966 alumnus of the School of Media and Communication.

According to Philadelphia Business Journal, Temple did not disclose how much money Tina Fey donated to the scholarship, but there is nearly $100,000 donated so far.

Neither of the Fey siblings are part of the scholarship recipient selection committee, according to Philadelphia Business Journal. It is also unclear how many recipients will receive the scholarship, but Temple could potentially award $4,000 this fall if a student who fits the criteria is identified.

-Lian Parsons


More than 32,000 applications have been recieved for the next calendar year at Temple, breaking last year’s record.

According to a university press release, 32,655 students applied to the university as of Feb, 24. Last year, 30,043 applied. The deadline for applications was March 1.

William Black, senior vice provost for enrollment management, said in a Temple Now interview, the rise in applications is occuring at nearly every school and college at the university, and that the new class is the strongest academically in Temple’s history.

“Our academic reputation is soaring, and people everywhere are starting to take notice,” Karin Mormando, director of undergraduate admissions, said in the release.

Factors contributing to growth include the Temple Option, which allows applicants to apply without submitting standardized test scores. Another is improvements to Main Campus, including Visualize Temple and Verdant Temple, the university’s campus and landscape plans, respectively.

The number of minority applicants is also up at the university. African-Americans’ applications have increased by more than 9 percent since last year, and applications from Latinos about 30 percent.

-Steve Bohnel


The Home Depot has released plans to hire 1,500 people in the Philadelphia area and 80,000 people nationwide in preparation for the home improvement store’s busiest season of spring. Both full-time, seasonal and part-time positions are available.

Opening opportunities include sales, operations and cashier positions. All applications can be filled out online on The Home Depot’s official website.

Associates are offered tuition assistance, 401k plans and other incentives during their employment. The tuition assistance program has granted associates more than $124 million during the past 10 years.

The Home Depot’s nearest stores include one in Port Richmond, Crescentville and South Philadelphia.

-Gillian McGoldrick


Thomas Pierce Elementary School in North Philadelphia received a $225,000 grant to provide technology and resources to parents in the community, Newsworks reported.

The grant, from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, will last three years and create a space in a previously empty room in the school building. Parents will be able to access information on how to get involved in their children’s education, instruct their children in reading and math, enroll their children in high school and give resources that will help parents fill out job applications.

Parent Power, an advocacy group headed by Sylvia Simms, who serves on the School Reform Commission, has opened other centers like the one at Thomas Pierce Elementary School in nearby schools.

The school district hopes to open technology and resource centers in all of its schools, Superintendent William Hite told Newsworks.

-Julie Christie

City fighting pension crisis

City Controller Alan Butkovitz is trying to fight the city’s underfunded pension crisis by buying out more than 30,000 pensioners.

The Inquirer reported Butkovitz is attempting to offer up-front cash payments to city retirees in order for them to surrender their pensions.

“There’s a persistent concern in the city about getting control of pension costs and a lot of things have been tried that were nibbling around the edges,” Butkovitz told the Inquirer.

City Council would need to approve any buyout.

-Steve Bohnel

Update on Friday night shooting near HSC

Police are still investigating the events concerning a TU Alert sent out around 6 p.m. Friday, after a man entered Temple University Hospital wounded in both legs and carrying a firearm.

The man, 23, had been shot three times in his right leg and twice in his left but is in stable condition, said Charlie Leone, executive director of Campus Safety Services.

The report filed by the shooter, however, claims only one shot was fired, Leone wrote in an email Saturday.

The shooter, a 24-year-old man, had been sitting in his car with his girlfriend earlier that evening near the intersection of Broad Street and Allegheny Avenue when an argument ensued between the man and a group of men outside his vehicle, including the victim.

The shooter told Philadelphia Police he fired one shot when he feared the victim was going to rob him, and then called 911 from the McDonalds parking lot across the street.

“I think there’s more to the story, and we’re just going to keep digging at it and come to a conclusion,” Leone said, adding different accounts can lead to inaccurate information at the beginning of an investigation.

“When witnesses start talking to you, it’s amazing how five different people can have five different accounts of what happened,” he said. “Humans are humans … there’s some intentional information left out and there’s some information left out because people see things differently.”

Leone said the alert was sent out to students as a precaution because at the time, there was no description of the shooter and Temple Police “didn’t want to take a chance.”

When they are first alerted to crime, Temple Police determine any injuries or students involved, then check the crime scene and send people to the hospital if necessary. The last step is to send out a TU Alert, which usually has a predetermined message with time and location.

Julie Christie can be reached at or on Twitter @ChristieJules.