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Four Charged in Philly Drug-Den Massacre

November 26, 2002

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Four new suspects were charged Tuesday in the massacre of seven people in a drug den. Prosecutors who had originally blamed others now say the killings were sparked by a dispute over a car problem.

Four other men were cleared in June, just before going to trial in the December 2000 ``Lex Street massacre.″ Authorities initially had believed the slaying, one of the city’s worst, was meant to wipe out rival drug dealers.

Seven people, ranging in age from 15 to 54, died and three others were wounded when a group of masked men stormed a row house taken over by squatters. The 10 victims were herded into a room and ordered to lie face-down on the floor, where they were shot.

Four men were arrested soon after and jailed for 18 months awaiting trial on murder charges. But in June, with a jury already selected, new evidence surfaced indicating the wrong men were in custody, and prosecutors _ who had sought the death penalty _ dropped the charges.

``We regret very much the fact that four other people were charged in this case,″ District Attorney Lynne Abraham said Tuesday.

She announced murder charges against Shihe Black, 20; Bruce Veney, 26; Dawud Faruqi, 27; and his brother Khalid Faruqi, 26. Abraham said she was considering whether to seek the death penalty. All four men are in custody in unrelated cases.

Prosecutors said a dispute over a blown clutch on a car led to the killings, but did not elaborate. Veney told police the group drove to the house to rob someone, according to an arrest affidavit released Tuesday.

Defense attorneys for the four original suspects accused police of ignoring an earlier confession by Black, who said he had served as a lookout but not for those men. Authorities said Black confessed twice, but recanted both times.

The original charges were based partly on a confession from one of the initial suspects who allegedly said the motive was to wipe out rival drug dealers. The man later said his statement was coerced.

``There were harsh statements made by the prosecutors when these guys were facing death,″ Tariq El-Shabazz, an attorney for one of the original defendants, said Tuesday. ``Nobody ever apologized to these guys and no one even admitted they were wrong.″

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