KIA GREGORY: Still Hard Out There For A Pimp

leroy00z-b.JPGINQUIRER: Forty-three minutes past midnight, a crackle pierced the summer air. For a moment, Leroy Lewis, perched on a concrete wall beside a rowhouse in his Juniata Park neighborhood, talking to two friends, dismissed the sound as leftover fireworks. When Lewis, 19, turned to look, he saw a young man, his baseball cap tilted low, moving from the alleyway across the narrow street, pointing a gun, hunting. “The next shot was me looking at him,” Lewis recounted later. “I just seen a whole bunch of fire.”Lewis took off, dipping behind parked cars, as bullets cut through his stomach, his buttocks, an ankle, a shoulder, and a thigh. His friends were also hit, one in the chest, the other in a thigh. As Lewis collapsed a block away on some rowhouse steps, shot six times, one thought filled his mind: “I’m going to die.”

Hours later, as chief trauma surgeon Amy Goldberg scanned the list of patients rushed into Temple University Hospital’s emergency room overnight on July 9, 2008, one name stood out. “Not again,” Goldberg thought. Ten months before, on Sept. 1, 2007, she had stitched and stapled together Lewis’ stomach, ripped open by a bullet. Goldberg, 48, remembered how Lewis had worked hard to recover, in the hospital for weeks, visiting the trauma clinic for months, calling her Miss Amy. Lewis admitted to hospital staff that he’d sold drugs, on and off. But unlike many gunshot patients — brooding, itching to get back to the street — Lewis, then 18, said he wanted to change. MORE

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