Northeast Times

Young anti-violence activist murdered in Kensington, investigation continues

The fam­ily of Manuel “Chino” Sanc­hez (pic­tured in middle por­trait), from left: broth­er-in-law Greg Buc­cerino, sis­ter Jas­mine, moth­er Luz, sis­ters Nana, Kathy, Lisa, Ash­ley (with 2-year-old Jenna) and Brenda. SAM NE­W­HOUSE / STAR PHOTO

Manuel En­rique “Chino” Sanc­hez died on Dec. 20 at the hands of two gun-tot­ing men. He was also a com­munity act­iv­ist work­ing to end vi­ol­ence in Phil­adelphia. Sanc­hez’s death, his fam­ily says, will hope­fully shed light on what needs to be done to make the city a more peace­ful place.

With gun vi­ol­ence at the fore­front of the na­tion’s con­science, a loc­al fam­ily is reel­ing from the loss of their son and broth­er, a re­cent vic­tim of the epi­dem­ic of gun vi­ol­ence here in Phil­adelphia.

He was also an anti-vi­ol­ence act­iv­ist.

Manuel En­rique “Chino” Sanc­hez, 25, who was also a hip-hop mu­si­cian, was murdered on Dec. 20 at 1 a.m. in front of his home at 2023 Castor Ave. dur­ing an armed rob­bery. He had gone out to get a pack of ci­gar­ettes.

Be­cause Sanc­hez re­fused to par­ti­cip­ate in il­leg­al activ­ity, and wanted to help people by stop­ping street vi­ol­ence, his fam­ily said, they hope that his leg­acy may be one of peace.

“He wasn’t out there do­ing what these oth­er kids were do­ing. He al­ways said, ‘Mama, I’m gonna get rich and bring you all out of this ghetto,” re­called Manuel Sanc­hez’s moth­er, Luz Sanc­hez, last week.

Sanc­hez was pas­sion­ate about mu­sic and com­munity, and was try­ing to make it as a hip hop artist while par­ti­cip­at­ing in anti-vi­ol­ence ef­forts, in­clud­ing his work with the group, Men United for a Bet­ter Phil­adelphia.

Sanc­hez and a friend were com­ing back from buy­ing ci­gar­ettes when they were held up at gun­point by two hooded men. Sanc­hez’s fam­ily said that ac­cord­ing to his friend, his last words were a re­quest for mercy to his killer.

“We don’t gotta do this,” Sanc­hez al­legedly said as he stepped to­ward the shoot­er, partly block­ing his friend, they said.

Then the shoot­er fired, hit­ting Sanc­hez in the chest, fatally wound­ing him. His friend was also hit by a bul­let but sur­vived.

“We want justice,” said Brenda Sanc­hez, Manuel’s sis­ter. “We ain’t gonna stop un­til we get it.”

The murder is un­solved. The Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­part­ment Of­fice of Me­dia Re­la­tions/Pub­lic Af­fairs of­fice did not re­spond to re­quests for an up­date on the case by press-time.

Among Sanc­hez’s fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing young nieces and neph­ews who be­gin weep­ing when they see their aunts and grand­moth­er cry over their lost uncle, the in­vest­ig­a­tion is on­go­ing, un­avoid­able and con­stant.

“Why? That’s what I want to know,” said Lisa Sanc­hez, also Manuel’s sis­ter. “Why’d you take his life? You stole an in­no­cent life of someone who wouldn’t even fight back.”

The wounds from the night of murder still are very fresh. Sanc­hez had moved to the neigh­bor­hood a few months pri­or to be on his own, and also to keep an eye on his niece, Lisa’s daugh­ter. He was liv­ing with her, her boy­friend, and their baby.

“I got the call,” Lisa re­called, her voice break­ing. “My daugh­ter was like, ‘They killed him. They shot him. Some guys tried to stick them up, and they shot him.’ ”

Sanc­hez’s niece saw the com­mo­tion out­side and ran down­stairs, where she found him dy­ing, the fam­ily said.

Para­med­ics re­spond­ing to the scene brought Sanc­hez to Temple Uni­versity Hos­pit­al, but it was too late.

“I’m still in dis­be­lief. When it hits me, I can’t stop cry­ing,” Lisa said. “We sit back and watch this [kind of thing] on the news. We nev­er think it’s go­ing to be us.”

Sanc­hez’s sis­ters and moth­er re­membered him as a quiet mama’s boy with a big heart, a slightly ob­sess­ive knack for clean­ing, and the habit of con­stantly writ­ing lyr­ics and notes for his mu­sic from the age of 11 on.

They re­called his mo­ments of spon­taneity – like just weeks be­fore the shoot­ing, how he ran up­stairs from the base­ment, dan­cing and pre­tend­ing to jam out on gui­tar.

“Chino was all about stop­ping the vi­ol­ence,” his sis­ter Brenda said. “He was writ­ing a song about the kids in New­town.”

Brenda’s hus­band, Greg Buc­cer­oni, is fol­low­ing the in­vest­ig­a­tion closely. Buc­cer­oni, also a com­munity act­iv­ist, said he plans to put to­geth­er a wanted fli­er with in­form­a­tion about Sanc­hez’s killer, and can­vass the neigh­bor­hood where the crime oc­curred, knock­ing on doors and ask­ing for in­form­a­tion. He is seek­ing as­sist­ance with these ef­forts from loc­al elec­ted of­fi­cials and oth­er com­munity groups.

“Here was a young guy do­ing good,” Buc­cer­oni said. “He was in the be­gin­ning stages of what he wanted to do as a com­munity act­iv­ist.”

Buc­cer­oni said Chino’s work in­cluded patrolling neigh­bor­hoods to quell street vi­ol­ence, in­ter­pret­ing Span­ish as a vic­tim ad­voc­ate, and passing out fli­ers to spread aware­ness about crimes that were com­mit­ted.

“He would just say, ‘Dunkin Donuts on me?’ Or, ‘Pappi boy, Dunkin Donuts on you?’” Buc­cer­oni re­called. That was Chino’s way of say­ing he was ready to work the streets all night.

His fam­ily has planned a fun­draiser at The New Pal­la­di­um at 229 W. Al­legheny Av­en­ue on Feb­ru­ary 22 to sup­port the ef­forts to find Chino’s killer.

Lisa has star­ted a Face­book group, called “Crime Has No Col­or.” Brenda has a page on Causes.com, in­vit­ing people to pledge to help “stop the vi­ol­ence” in Phil­adelphia.

But in the mean­time, they’ll be cling­ing to what good they can find in the hope that Sanc­hez’s death may shed a little more light on gun vi­ol­ence in Phil­adelphia, and maybe lead to change.

“I know my broth­er’s death is gonna bring something pos­it­ive,” Lisa said.

To sub­mit a tip to the Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­part­ment, call 215-686-TIPS (8477) or text PP­DTIP (773847).

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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