Drew Justice Philadelphia man dies from a single punch following altercation at a local dog walk park over a dog off its leash. Suspect remains at large.
All it took was one single punch. A Pennsylvania man out for a walk with his fiancé and their dog has died after being punched at a local Philadelphia park after becoming embroiled in dispute with another dog owner.
Drew Justice, 38, and his fiancée, Kristi Buchholz, were walking their Shih Tzu in Philadelphia’s Gold Star Park on Saturday evening when they encountered a man with a dog that was off its leash, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Justice asked the man to leash his dog. The man became outraged and punched Justice in the face before feeling the scene, onlookers told NBC10. Justice fell back and hit his head on the pavement, witnesses recalled- with the suspect fleeing.
Witnesses heard the commotion and called the police. Medical staff at Jefferson University Hospital pronounced Justice dead shortly after at 9:51 p.m.
Police described the suspect as ‘unknown white male wearing dark clothing.’
‘You never know if a dog is going to turn’.
‘I heard the screaming,’ Justice’s neighbor, Julie Abruzzese, told NBC10. ‘But it was already done. He was laying on the ground.’
‘Him and his fiancée were ready to get married,’ Abruzzese added. ‘It’s heartbreaking.’
Abruzzese said both dogs and children frequent the park, while noting there had been recent tension over safety issues.
‘They’re going to tell you their dog’s friendly,’ Abruzzese said. ‘You don’t know at that moment if a dog’s going to turn. I’ve always said that one day they’re going to bite these children. But here it turned out somebody got killed over a leash.’
The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office said Justice died from ‘blunt impact trauma injury to the head’ and ruled his death a homicide.
Drew Justice remembered: ‘Drew matched her dedication to community service and our park community.’
In the wake of his death, Justice, who worked as a data management programmer, was remembered by Friends of Gold Star Park group, which helped manage the dog walk.
Noted a released statement via Facebook: ‘Gold Star Park is mourning the loss of a member of our community following the tragic incident which occurred on Saturday evening. Immediately upon moving to the neighborhood, Drew’s fiance joined the Friends of Gold Star Park. She has been an enthusiastic volunteer; helping to launch the fundraising campaign for our upcoming park remodel, soliciting donations, organizing kids’ play events and summer concerts –in addition to volunteering with the Passyunk Square Civic Association. Drew matched her dedication to community service and our park community. He raked leaves at cleanup days, hung lights for our winter celebration, and was always up for firing up the grill to feed volunteers or raise money for the park. He will be greatly missed.’
According to the group, dogs are required to be kept on a leash at all times.
To date no suspect has been identified with cops yet to make an arrest.
Anyone with information on the fatal assault is urged to call Philadelphia Police at 215-686-TIPS.