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On June 24th, around 2:45 a.m, a group of seven teenagers beat a 73-year-old man with a traffic cone in north Philadelphia. The older man, James Lambert, was walking the streets when a group of seven teenagers surrounded and began attacking him.
The violent attack was captured on video, where the seven teenagers began striking Lambert with a traffic cone and other objects down the 2100 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue. The teenagers are three girls and four boys, between the ages of 13 and 17.
Lambert fell to the ground, unable to withstand the constant hits as the teenagers beat him. Lambert began to walk away to escape the abuse when a female teenager struck him in the back with a traffic cone.
After being shoved to the ground multiple times, Lambert sustained head injuries and was taken to Temple University Hospital. The next day, he was pronounced dead.
Tania Stephens, Lambert’s niece, wants justice for her uncle and questions why the teenagers were out so late without parental supervision.
“Where were the parents? I don’t understand how children that age look like they couldn’t have been any older than 14. How are you out at 2 o’clock in the morning committing a crime? I’m a senior, and I’m not out at that hour. The parents need to turn their kids in. The kids need help. They need help.”
Police are still searching for the young suspects, offering a 20,000 reward for anyone with information leading to their arrest and conviction. They have alerted the public that if they come in contact with the suspects, alert officials instead of approaching them.
Philadelphia Police Capt. Jason Smith stated, “It’s horrible, it’s a horrible occurrence. Mr. Lambert proceeds to get up, attempting to walk away from the group again, and at that time, you can see a female strike Mr. Lambert, in the back with a construction cone.”
Smith sends a message to the parents of the teenagers, pleading for them to come forward:
“The message I would like to put out there is to the parents of these juveniles, if they are aware that their son or daughter is involved in this incident, I think that the best course of action would be for them to contact an attorney and then contact the homicide unit,” he said.
Recently, officials approved a new summer curfew for minors through September 29th. Those between ages 14 and 17 must be home by 10:00 p.m. Formerly, the latest time teenagers were permitted to be outside was until midnight, but now rules have changed. Children under 13 are required to be home by 9:30 p.m.
Given the modified curfew, it is an attempt by the city of Philadelphia to keep the streets safer after news of the horrific attack. The bill was proposed by Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore, who thinks “we’re seeing our young people involved in more criminal incidents, criminal activity simply because they’re out late.”
For teenagers found violating curfew, officials will bring them home to their families, keep them at a precinct, or take them to a community center.
While Philadelphia is known for its high corruption rate, officials advocate making the city safer by implementing safer alternatives, such as the modified curfew, preventing tragic incidents like this from happening again.