Posted on Fri, Jan. 22, 2010
Suspect is no troublemaker, friends say
By Allison Steele
Inquirer Staff Writer
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."
The man who was shot, Eddie DiDonato Jr., 23, of Blue Bell, remained in critical condition at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where yesterday he underwent his fourth operation since being shot in a hand, the chest, and the abdomen. DiDonato, a former captain of Villanova's lacrosse team, is a nephew of city Republican leader Michael Meehan's and the son of Center City lawyer Edward J. DiDonato.
Ung, 28, of West Philadelphia, is charged with attempted murder and related counts.
Two Facebook groups have been created by friends of each man: "Gerald Ung Is Innocent" and "Support Eddie DiDonato on His Road to Recovery."
Gina Furia Rubel, who owns a public-relations firm and as a DiDonato family friend is acting as a spokeswoman, said DiDonato's parents had been reading him messages of support left on the Facebook site.
According to Rubel, DiDonato prevented two of his friends from being shot by stepping in front of Ung's gun. DiDonato's parents consider their son a hero, Rubel said.
Several of Ung's friends said yesterday that they believed Ung had fired in self-defense. Ung carried a gun for protection and was not easily provoked, they said.
Police have said DiDonato and friends were walking to get a cab at Fourth and Market Streets about 2:30 a.m. Sunday after a night at the area's bars and restaurants when they got into a scuffle with people who were with Ung.
A surveillance camera outside Fox29 studios recorded the confrontation. The fuzzy footage, at www.myfoxphilly.com
, shows an altercation on Market. DiDonato can be seen rushing at Ung, who then appears to pull out a gun and fire. The men then fall to the sidewalk.
Ung, who came from Virginia to attend Temple, was arrested at the scene and did not try to flee, police said. Apaga, a friend of Ung's since childhood, said Ung had called police after the shooting.
Ten percent of his $200,000 bail was posted Monday, apparently by his mother.
Ung had been on track to get his law degree in May.