Alex Cherry chatted with Chris Rabb, a Democratic candidate for a seat in the Pennsylvania State House, on Sunday, saying he planned to work the polls in the upcoming election.
Impressed, Rabb and a volunteer encouraged the 21-year-old to join the campaign, Rabb said later in a statement.
“He was enthusiastic about the political process,” Rabb said.
Then, as Cherry was still speaking with the campaign worker, a man came up behind the 21-year-old and shot him in the head, according to Philadelphia Police.
The shooter “walked up and deliberately shot someone with every intent of killing,” said Police Commissioner Richard Ross, WPVI reported.
After shooting Cherry once, the suspect walked away for a moment and then returned to shoot Cherry twice more, according to police.
Cherry died while holding a piece of campaign literature, Rabb campaign manager Chris Visco told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Cherry had expressed interest in volunteering on Rabb’s campaign just before he was “shot, execution-style, blood gushing everywhere,” Visco added.
“I engaged that young man, who was alive and well and had this vitality, and moments later, he was a corpse,” Rabb told reporters Monday, WPVI reported.
Rabb had stepped away just before the broad-daylight shooting in Philadelphia’s Cedarbrook neighborhood, his campaign told WPVI. But he managed to pull his campaign volunteer into a nearby convenience store when the shooting started, the Associated Press reported.
“Moments after he gave us his contact information he was murdered,” Rabb said in a statement. “He had his whole life in front of him.”
Police say another shooting that took place hours later may be connected to Cherry’s killing. Just blocks away, witnesses told police that someone got out of a red SUV and shot into a crowd. One of those shots hit Elijah Frazier, 18, who ran into a Chinese take-out restaurant with a fatal gunshot wound, police said.
Frazier was taken to a local hospital, where he died. A bullet also grazed the head of a 17-year-old, police said.
Both Frazier and Cherry were friends who belonged to a group that had an ongoing dispute with another group, Philadelphia’s Homicide Capt. James Clark told reporters Monday, AP reported.
Video exists of Cherry’s shooting, Clark said.
The two fatal shootings were part of a violent weekend overall in the city; a total of six people, ranging in age from 17 to 36, were fatally shot in Philadelphia.
Ross told reporters that “two rivaling factions” may be involved in the Cedarbrook shootings.
“What they’re fighting over — we haven’t pinned that down right now, but we are not going to let this pass us by, by not assuming that it’s gang related because everything suggests that it is,” Ross told reporters.
[This post, originally published April 25, has been updated.]