On Monday, we wrote about a shooting in Philadelphia involving a law student, as the accused shooter, and the son of a law firm partner, as the apparent victim. We now have some updates on the situation. Alas, we still have more questions than answers.
Gerald Ung (pictured), 28, is in his final year at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. (Small correction to our last post: he’s a fourth-year student in the night program, not a 3L.) Ung is accused of shooting Edward DiDonato Jr., 23, a recent college graduate and the son of a partner at Fox Rothschild.
First, some (relatively) good news. Edward DiDonato, who was in critical condition immediately after being shot, is hanging in there and making progress (although he’s still critical). According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he underwent a fourth operation yesterday. A Facebook group created to express support for Eddie DiDonato has over 1,800 members.
Second, some of Ung’s friends believe he has been treated unfairly in coverage. What are their concerns?
Friends of Gerald Ung, the Temple University law student charged with shooting a Villanova University graduate six times in Old City last weekend, said yesterday that he is friendly, smart, and the opposite of a troublemaker.
“Gerald is not a gun-happy, overstressed law student waiting to go postal,” one friend, Ernest Apaga, said in an e-mail. “He is extraordinarily gregarious and dynamic, and there is no doubt in my mind that his friends and professors at Temple are scurrying to figure out how to get him the proper legal counseling and funding he’ll need.”
Ung’s friends claim that he acted in self-defense, describing him as “not easily provoked.” They note that he did not flee the scene; in fact, according to one of them, Ung actually called the police after the shooting.
Like DiDonato’s supporters, Ung’s friends have also been active on Facebook. They’ve created a page, Gerald Ung Is Innocent, which currently has over 360 fans, as well as a group, We Support Gerald Ung, which has over 100 members.
Third, a narrative is emerging depicting DiDonato as a hero. Public relations executive Gina Rubel — president of Furia Rubel Communications and a DiDonato family friend, who is serving as the family’s spokesperson — told the Philadelphia Daily News that Eddie DiDonato (pictured) stepped in front of the gun to save two of his friends.
What exactly happened that night, though, remains unclear. From the Daily News:
Despite more than two dozen witnesses allegedly on scene, details about what led to the altercation remain scant. Police will only say that there was an argument before the shooting. Rubel said yesterday that DiDonato and some friends were walking to get a cab after a night out in Old City and they were “messing around” on some scaffolding.
“One of them was pushed, something ensued and Eddie got shot,” Rubel said, noting that the family had been told that DiDonato stepped in front of the gun and saved the lives of his two friends.
His family considers him a hero, Rubel said.
But one of Ung’s supporters isn’t buying it. One of them sent us this email:
I smell a giant load of BULLSHIT!!
The “victim” is the son of a partner at Fox Rothschild and the nephew of a top player in the GOP party in Philadelphia. The statement [calling DiDonato a "hero"] was issued by a PR firm with close ties to the family.
The video is pretty clear (in my opinion) that the “victim” was attacking the shooter while the shooter tried to back away. The incident was captured on tape.
Hmmm… well-connected captain of the Villanova lax team gets shot by another off-the-hinge Asian law student… Must be a hero!! (??)
Many of you have aired your views in the comments on our last post (which has over 400 comments so far). Here is another question for you to tackle in the comments: What action, if any, should Temple Law take with respect to Gerald Ung?
(As far as we know, Temple has not yet done anything regarding Ung (but email us if we’re wrong about this). The latest news is that Ung was released on Monday on 10 percent of $200,000 bail.)
With numerous caveats — we don’t know all the facts yet, our question is vague and subjective and unscientific, etc. — please answer this question (which assumes, for purposes of the poll, the truth of the allegation that Ung shot DiDonato):
Suspect is no troublemaker, friends say [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Nova grad reportedly stepped in front of gun to save friends in Old City shooting [Philadelphia Daily News]
Shooting victim is kin to GOP leader Meehan [Philadelphia Daily News]
Shooting victim improves [Times Hearld News]
Support Eddie Didonato on his road to recovery!!! [Facebook]
Gerald Ung is innocent. [Facebook]
We Support Gerald Ung [Facebook]
Earlier: Temple Third-Year Law Student Suspected in Shooting