Authorities said suspects entered the house at 137-37 219th St. in what was possibly a burglary attempt and shot the 33-year-old victim. Before fleeing they lit the second floor on fire, according to police.The afternoon blaze was put out a short while later, at which point firefighters found the man's charred body bound with a bullet wound to the head, officials said..A second man who lived in the house told police the assailants bound him with duct tape in his second-floor apartment, but that he managed to free himself and call 911. When police arrived, the second floor was ablaze. The surviving man received minor injuries and was taken away by police for questioning.A woman who said she was the aunt of one of the men who lived in the house, identified her nephew as Richard Gilchrist. Police have not released any names of the victims, and it was unclear whether Gilchrist was in the house during the break-in. No arrests had been made.The afternoon of the fire, the woman, Chris Spaulding, who said she was Gilchrist's only older relative in the neighborhood, stood outside the green and white house gripping a cell phone. Her son, she said, had gone with police to help identify the body. She was waiting for his call."Oh, God, I hope it's not Richie," she said.Friends gathered at the ends of the 219th Street block between 137th Road and 138th Avenue that had been roped off as a crime scene said the house had belonged to Gilchrist's grandfather's and that he had lived there all his life. They described Gilchrist as witty and at times careless and happy-go-lucky."We mainly just talked about parties, like what we did Friday night," said James Savage, 35, who had lived across the street from Gilchrist since childhood.When asked if her nephew was married and a father, Spaulding said, "Oh, he's got kids. No wife, but kids all over."Another childhood friend, Tammie Briggs, 33, came walking up the street when she heard about a fire in a house and began sobbing when she saw it was Gilchrist's."We were in every class together in elementary," she said. "I was just praying it wasn't him in there."Briggs said the last time she talked to Gilchrist last summer he said he and some female friends were planning to open a 24-hour day-care inside his two-story home."He was so excited about it," said Briggs, a mother of two. "He would say to me, 'If you ever want to go out on the weekends, you can bring your kids here.'"Upon hearing what happened, nearby residents of the close-knit neighborhood expressed shock, saying this was always a quiet block."It's the type of block where you watch people get old and watch kids grow up," said Savage.No one could say if Gilchrist was employed, had enemies or was into drugs.Spaulding said she last saw Gilchrist earlier that week when he visited her at home."He was his old jolly, stupid self," she said, smiling weakly.
©2006 Community News Group
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