Sudden death on a street corner

Milan Loncar, 25, died suddenly Wednesday evening January 13 in Philadelphia’s Brewerytown section. That name will not be familiar to most readers beyond the immediate Philadelphia area. I’m writing to acquaint a wider audience with Mr. Loncar and the circumstances of his tragic death.

Brewerytown is named after the many mostly German-American owned breweries operating in the neighborhood in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The area is “booming,” fueled by an influx of young singles, couples, and first-time home buyers and investors attracted by its affordability, cool vibe, and Philadelphia’s cultural attractions.

The downside is that, because of easy access by the criminally minded from surrounding high crime areas, Brewerytown’s crime rates are markedly higher than the Philadelphia average. Milan Loncar encountered two criminally-minded young men that fateful evening on a desolate Philadelphia street corner.

Surveillance video shows Mr. Loncar walking Roo, his dachshund-Chihuahua mix dog, around seven o’clock that evening when he was approached by two males during a random, crime-of-opportunity robbery attempt. One male pointed a handgun at the slightly built Loncar and then both started reaching toward his pants pockets. Finding nothing (he left his wallet at home) they shot him. He was pronounced dead minutes later at Temple University Hospital.

What makes the murder most terrible is the Milan Loncar his friends and family knew. Loncar, an engineering major, graduated from Temple in 2019. He was employed for about a year by a construction management company.

Jelena Loncar, 27, his sister, who lived close by, described him as “selfless, constantly smiling.”

“I don’t know if he was targeted. I don’t know if they were going to rob anyone,” she said. “If he’s walking his dog, why would he have a ton of cash on him. I don’t get it.”

I don’t get it either. I doubt anyone does, except perhaps his killers.

Their mother, Amy Lounsberry, described him as a “beloved sweet boy just starting his life.” His girlfriend was planning to move in with him soon, and “everything was coming together for him.”

I did not know Milan, but his uncle, Nikola Loncar, 66, is a Facebook friend and Malvern resident. In a Facebook post, “Nick” wrote, “He (Milan) was an extremely good and responsible child…any conflict is unthinkable in his life.”

Nick once told Milan and Jelena that if they ever had a problem, they should contact him immediately. Milan replied, “Uncle, we don’t cause problems. Don’t worry.”

His post continues, “All five of our children grew up outside of Philadelphia on the Main Line, a place with ‘excellent’ schools and ‘extremely low’ crime rates. That is why…those who grew up in safe environments cannot even imagine the dangers of big cities.”

Jelena now plans to move out of the city.

At the time of this writing, police have the alleged shooter, 20, in custody. Infuriatingly, the suspect, with two previous robbery convictions, was released December 29 on dramatically lowered bail in an armed kidnapping and an assault case.

As of midnight January 18, Philadelphia Police reported 27 homicides in 2021.

Each of those lives mattered to someone. With one exception.

Milan Loncar’s life meant nothing to his cold-blooded killers.

IMAGE: Milan Loncar.

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