Authorities are searching for seven teenagers accused of fatally beating a 73-year-old man with a traffic cone last month in Philadelphia, police announced late this week.
Surveillance video released by police shows a group of teens chasing the victim and hurling what appears to be a traffic cone at him. The footage shows one teen chasing him across the street and striking him with the traffic cone. Immediately afterward, another teen could be seen picking it up and hitting him again, then chasing him down the sidewalk and hitting him with it for a third time.
Police said Lambert, who was blurred in the video, was taken to a hospital where he died the next day of his injuries.
Attempts to reach Lambert’s relatives on Saturday were unsuccessful.
It is not clear what happened in the moments leading up to the attack or whether the teens knew the victim. But for about 20 minutes afterward, the teens could be seen on surveillance video wandering around the area, one of them riding a scooter.
Relatives of the victim told WCAU in Philadelphia that they had seen Lambert, also known as “Simmie,” hours before the incident and could not believe kids had attacked him. Police said the Black teens appeared to be in their early to midteens. Police did not provide any further descriptions except that one teen had a blond patch of hair.
The family members told the news station that they are heartbroken.
This is James “Simmie” Lambert, the man who was killed.— Danny Freeman (@DannyEFreeman) July 8, 2022
His family tells me they’re heart broken and they saw him just hours before he was attacked.
They’re in disbelief a group of kids did this.@NBCPhiladelphia https://t.co/U0Lko1MCf5 pic.twitter.com/gtkY7UVe7I
As of July 8, there have been 280 homicides in Philadelphia in 2022 — a 4 percent decrease from the same time last year, according to crime statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department.
More people were killed in Philadelphia in 2021 than any other year in recent history. It prompted a harsh debate on policing and criminal justice between two well-known Philadelphia Democrats — District Attorney Larry Krasner, who is White, and former mayor Michael Nutter, who is Black.
As Washington Post reporter Cleve R. Wootson Jr., reported at the time:
The year 2021 in the City of Brotherly Love will always be marked by the shocking number of people whose lives came to an abrupt and violent end: an 18-year-old shot two weeks before his high school graduation, two men killed in a hail of gunfire at a July Fourth cookout, a pregnant woman gunned down as she unpacked presents from her baby shower.
Police said a $20,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to an arrest and conviction in the June 24 attack. The case is being investigated by the homicide unit, police said.