The early morning commute to work is something 55-year-old Barry Parks looked forward to most days. He didn't mind the strange hours and enjoyed being able to run errands when he was finished, friends told NBC10.
"He liked that shift," Jerome Smith said, adding that Parks never worried about being out early in the morning.
"He's a big man," Smith said. "He can handle himself."
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But on Tuesday around 2:30 a.m., Parks' coworkers witnessed his death at a SEPTA bus stop in North Philadelphia, police said.
Witnesses told police the Route 56 bus pulled up around 2:40 a.m. as two men struggled near 6th Street and Erie Avenue in the Hunting Park neighborhood, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. One of the men fired a single gunshot and ran off in front of the bus.
The bus driver flagged down police officers who arrived moments later to find Parks suffering from a gunshot wound to the forehead, police said. Medics pronounced him dead on the scene.
A backpack was left at the bus stop.
"My heart is broken," Parks' daughter, Erica Parks, said. "I'm really torn by this."
Parks was a father of three and grandfather of three, family members told NBC10. Witnesses told investigators that Parks waited for the bus at that stop every day during the week.
Two SEPTA passengers recognized Parks as their coworker, according to police.
Investigators are hopeful that surveillance video obtained from the bus and nearby businesses will held police catch the suspect. He is described as 5-foot, 6-inches tall with dreadlocks.
“We don’t know the motive at this time, we don’t know if this was a robbery or if they were in a physical altercation for some other reason,” Small said.