Philly, all of this killing over dumb stuff has got to stop. A bump, a look, some words, and the next thing you know, someone pulls out a gun and starts shooting.
That's what happened with Dominique Oglesby, the 23-year-old Penn State student killed outside the Galaxy West Bar & Grill in West Philly in March. She reportedly accidentally bumped into a female customer inside, which sparked the accusation, "Bitch, you think you're cute." A fight ensued. A male customer got involved. Threats were made. By the time things quieted down, Dominique was lying on a sidewalk mortally wounded.
Calling her family devastated would be a gross understatement. Dominique, who was academically gifted, beautiful, and goal-oriented, occupied a special place in her close-knit family. The oldest of three children, she was much loved and would have become the first in her immediate family to graduate college on May 5.
On Saturday afternoon, about 20 of her relatives gathered inside a community room at an apartment complex in Southwest Philly to discuss efforts to find her killer and organize a march on May 19 to demand justice for Dominique and other victims of violence. The march will start at 10 a.m. at 52nd and Market Streets, proceed along Market, and conclude at LOVE Park.
"Dominique went out fighting, and we want to continue the fight," said Dolly Parrish, Dominique's aunt. "This is only the beginning."
Dominique was shot March 18 after leaving the neighborhood lounge where she had stopped for something to eat. She had attended church earlier that day and visited family. Relatives say that after Dominique accidentally bumped into a female patron and words were exchanged, Dominique reportedly tried to continue past and place her food order.
"At that point, the young lady picked up a bar stool and threw it at my niece, and I guess an altercation ensued," Zakiya Oglesby, another aunt, told me.
The situation reportedly escalated when the male customer allegedly threatened Dominique before he was forced outside. Dominique, who was still inside, frantically called her mother, who arranged to have her father and grandfather meet her.
"I looked at it as a dad getting there and being able to get her out of that situation," said her mom, Danielle Shaw-Oglesby. "[He would say] 'I'm here now. You can get in your car and go ahead about your business.'"
That's not how it turned out.
Both Dominique's dad and grandfather showed up outside Galaxy and began fighting the suspect, who opened fire as he ran from the scene. Fareed Oglesby, 42, Dominique's dad, was wounded in a foot and hip; Stephen Bass, 66, the grandfather, in the arm; and Dominique in the chest and stomach. Relatives say the father and grandfather are sick about how things unfolded. Last week, I asked Dominique's mother if she regretted not having called the police after Dominique contacted her.
"That's something that I struggle with on a daily basis," Shaw-Oglesby told me.
It's all so senseless. Same thing with so many other murders. Two weeks after Dominique was killed, a 16-year-old from Boys' Latin, William Bethel of Roxborough, was killed on South Street. Last fall, two students — one from St. Joseph's Prep and the other from Mastery Charter — lost their lives in a double homicide. I could go on and on. But my point is that these boys all died because of petty arguments.
"People turn small things into big things," said Capt. John Ryan of the Homicide Division. "And when you introduce guns into the mix, there's tragedy."
In Dominique's case, police have identified a suspect, Julius Q. Scott, but note that he is only wanted for firearms violations. Ben Waxman, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office, said, "This incident is the subject of an open and active investigation and therefore I can't comment any further than that."
"The guy does have a credible self-defense [motive] but he's a convicted felon in possession of a firearm," Ryan said of Scott. "He has to present himself to give his side of the story."