Firefighter and son charged in fatal beating

A Philadelphia firefighter and his son have been charged in the fatal beating of a man who was crossing the street in front of the off-duty firefighter’s car earlier this month, police said Tuesday night.

Mark Wallace, 54, of the 3900 block of Patrician Drive, died at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital on Tuesday, said Nancy Kolenkiewicz, his sister, who was there when he was taken off life support.

“I was holding his hand,” she said.

He would have turned 55 on April 27. Now that is the date of his funeral, she said.

The assault occurred on April 8 around 7:30 p.m. at the intersection Knights and Fairdale Roads near where Wallace lived in Northeast Philadelphia, police said.

Gerard M. Shaffer, 47, the off-duty firefighter, allegedly got into an argument with Wallace and then started attacking him. Shaffer’s son, Gerard, 21, also allegedly attacked Wallace. Both Shaffer’s live nearby in the 4100 block of Farmdale Road.

Wallace, unconscious and bleeding from the head, was taken to Aria Health’s Torresdale Campus in critical condition, then was transferred five days later to Jefferson in very critical condition, police said.

“He had a big heart,” his sister said. “He was a good man.”

Shaffer and his son were arrested Monday morning and charged with aggravated assault and related offenses, police said.

Wallace’s sister said police had told her that the father and son may face charges of manslaughter instead of murder.

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