Family, school mourns 15-year-old killed in North Philly shooting

Maria Balbuena, is comforted near a memorial established for her child, Juan Carlos Robles-Corona, who was killed Monday afternoon near their North Philadelphia home.
Jack Tomczuk

The mother of a 15-year-old boy who was gunned down steps away from his school and his home Monday afternoon in North Philadelphia made a passionate plea for information about her son’s killing.

“I just want to know what happened,” Maria Balbuena, 33, cried out Tuesday, near a memorial established for her child, Juan Carlos Robles-Corona, also known as J.R., an eighth grader at Tanner Duckrey School.

“What did he do to deserve this, to be left in the street?” she added. “I need to know.”

Juan was shot several times just before 2:45 p.m. on 15th Street by Susquehanna Avenue, near Temple University’s main campus. Investigators said his assailants fired around 20 shots.

Balbuena said he should have still been at Duckrey, which had not yet let out for dismissal. She told reporters she had been getting conflicting stories from school officials.

A district spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday afternoon.

Juan had been having issues with other students, but Balbuena said she attended a meeting Friday and thought the problems had been settled. She added that her son was happy over the weekend.

A memorial sits at the site where Juan Carlos Robles-Corana was killed in a shooting Monday afternoon near 15th Street and Susquehanna Avenue.Jack Tomczuk

Twenty-four hours after the shooting, mourners brought balloons, flowers, pictures, candles and posters to the spot where Juan was killed, as family members attempted to console Balbuena.

He looked after his two young siblings, also students at Duckrey, and worked at the Auntie Anne’s pretzel stand at the Fashion District shopping mall in Center City. Juan, who turned 15 in February, was also occasionally called “Six,” his favorite number.

“Sweet kid,” said Brite Alexander, a Duckery support staff member. “This was shocking to our school.”

Grieving resources have been set up at the school and will remain through the rest of the academic year, added Danita Bates, Duckrey’s parent-community outreach coordinator.

“A lot of them don’t know how to express their feelings,” Bates told Metro.

Classmates showed up at the memorial after dismissal and, at Balbuena’s request, performed TikTok dances in honor of Juan.

“I didn’t know he was loved by so many people,” she said.

Classmates of 15-year-old Juan Carlos Robles-Corana, who was killed in a shooting Monday afternoon, perform a TikTok dance Tuesday, April 5, at the request of his mother.Jack Tomczuk

Juan wasn’t the youngest shooting victim on Monday.

Later in the day, at around 8:30 p.m., a 13-year-old boy was shot in the head and forearm while inside a car near the corner of 49th and Hoopes streets in the Mill Creek section of West Philadelphia, authorities said.

Officers rushed him to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

On Tuesday, a 16-year-old boy was wounded in a shooting that happened at around 1 p.m. inside a house on the 2000 block of Brill Street in Wissinoming, police said.

He was transported to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital with a wound to his hip and is expected to survive.

At least two men have been fatally shot since Juan was killed.

Several blocks away from Duckrey School, on the 2300 block of N. Opal Street, a 21-year-old man was shot in the back just before 2 a.m. Tuesday, police said. He died a short time later at Temple University Hospital.

In Frankford, a 24-year-old man died after being shot once in the chest at around 8:45 p.m. Monday inside a takeout restaurant on the 4800 block of Frankford Avenue, authorities said.

Officers apprehended a person at the scene and recovered a gun, but police did not release more information.

Through Monday, 125 people had been killed this year in Philadelphia, a similar amount to this time in 2021, when the city experienced a record high number of homicides. More than 500 people have been shot since the start of the year.