The niece of an elderly man viciously beaten to death by seven teens in Philadelphia last month said on Saturday she and her large extended family are still in shock over losing the man they called “Simmie.”
“I’m sick to my stomach over this,” said Tania Stephens, 63, about the killing of her 73-year-old uncle, James Lambert, who was attacked by teenaged thugs who hit him repeatedly with traffic cones just after 3 a.m. on June 14 as he was walking across Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
“We all can’t stop crying. Who does this? Anyone normal doesn’t beat up and kill a senior citizen walking down the street. Simmie didn’t deserve this.”
Disturbing video of the incident, released by police Friday, shows Lambert trying to walk away from the teens as they follow him and knock him to the ground with a cone. He tries to pick himself up and flee but gets knocked down again while some of the teens smile and laugh.
Lambert, who lived his entire life in Philadelphia, was taken to a local hospital where he died the following day from his injuries, police said.
Stephens told The Post that she grew up with several generations of her family including her uncle in a big house in the Fairmount section of the city. Many family members still live within blocks of each other.
Stephens said her uncle, who was retired from construction work, “stepped up” to help her mother care for her and her 10 siblings when Stephens was 12 and her father died.
He and his sister, Tania’s mother, Elsie Lambert Stephens, 85, were still so close that “Simmie” often went to her house for dinner. The family gathered every Thanksgiving at Elsie’s house, as well.
“Everyone would always ask, where’s Simmie, has Simmie got here yet?” Stephens recalled. “He just had this swagger, this cool. And he always dressed like he was out of GQ.”
Lambert never married and had two daughters and three grandsons, Stephens said. He overcame a heroin addiction in the 1960s.
Lambert was at his sister Elsie’s house for dinner just hours before he was attacked.
“My mom gave him his platter,” Stephens said. “She gave him barbecued chicken, some mac and cheese and a dinner roll. She told him, you’re late, there’s no sides left.”
Stephens doesn’t know why her uncle was out so late but she said his walk was on a route he often took.
None of the teenagers seen on video attacking Lambert had been arrested as of Friday. The Philadelphia Police Department is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading them to the culprits. A police spokesman told The Post Saturday that there were no new developments in the case.
“These kids should come forward,” Stephens said. “Their parents should come forward. Something is very wrong when kids are out at 2 a.m. beating and killing an old man. We’ve lost God, we’ve lost family, what’s happened to us?”