Police: Man charged after intervening in couple's fight, killing boyfriend

- Police say a couple's late-night argument near Drexel University took a deadly turn when a random man intervened in their fight and fatally shot the boyfriend.

Philadelphia police say the victim 21-year-old Merlos Mukaj, a college student from New Jersey, was pronounced dead just before midnight Tuesday.

The shooting happened near one of the college's student housing complexes on the 3500 block of Lancaster Avenue. 

"We heard three quick gunshots. Afterwards, we heard the woman screaming, 'What did you do?'  She was screaming a lot," Drexel student Neha Shah said.

Police say a female Drexel student was having a loud argument with her 21-year-old boyfriend. The boyfriend walked away. That's when a 24-year-old Drexel graduate with a 9 mm Glock pistol and a license to carry approached the woman, according to police. 

"He walked up to see if the woman is OK. The boyfriend returned and assaulted the 24-year-old with the permit to carry," Philadelphia Police Captain John Ryan said.

Police say after being punched, the gun owner fired into the chest of his attacker, killing him.

According to police, 24-year-old Joseph Howanski was arrested and charged with murder and related offenses. 

The university is reaching out to all affected members of the Drexel community to offer support in wake of the news. Any students within the Drexel community who need assistance are encouraged to contact the university’s counseling center.

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