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Rian Thal

Rian Thal

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At 34, Rian Thal was living in the fast lane.

She worked with some of the city's hippest clubs as a promoter and event planner.

She lived in the tony Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties, a $100 million development modeled on the Piazza Navona in Rome.

Her Facebook page lists hundreds of friends.But Saturday evening, Thal was shot to death, struck by bullets in the back of her neck and head.

A man believed to be in his 30s was also killed in the attack in the hallway outside Thal's apartment.Yesterday, police continued to withhold the second victim's name as well as other details of their investigation, which was aided by security video that showed three men carrying out the attack with semiautomatic handguns.Police did not offer a motive in the slayings.

But Homicide Lt.

Philip Riehl said police had found "a substantial amount" of drugs and money in Thal's seventh-floor apartment.

"Whether it was hers, I don't have any idea," Riehl said.Police said they were continuing to examine the security footage that recorded the attack in the hallway of the Navona building shortly after 6 p.m.

Saturday.Riehl said he could not discuss whether Thal had a police record.

However, Delaware County court records show that she was convicted in 2001 of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and was initially sentenced to six to 23 months in county prison.The charges apparently stemmed from an undercover investigation the year before at a Ridley Township club that has since gone out of business.

According to documents filed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, a state trooper executing a search warrant at the club arrested Thal after seeing her throw a plastic bag, later determined to contain cocaine, to the floor.Defense attorney A.

Charles Peruto Jr., who said he represented Thal in that case and other matters, said the 2001 sentence had been reduced to probation.

"She didn't go to jail," he said."She was a nice girl, and she was just troubled with this drug problem," Peruto said last night.

"I thought that she had put all this behind her."Yesterday, Thal's many friends and acquaintances remained stunned by her killing.Thal had just moved into the Northern Liberties complex, said Leah Grant, a friend who had visited her in the building.

Grant said she and a friend "were just there - in that place and walking down that hallway.

It's very, very posh and upscale.

[Thal] was so excited."The Northern Liberties complex was built by developer Bart Blatstein to resemble the Piazza Navona, one of Rome's most famous settings, on the site of the former Schmidt's brewery.

The complex includes apartments, offices, shops, and restaurants set around a one-acre plaza.A man who identified himself as Thal's uncle answered the phone yesterday at a number public records say was Thal's."We're trying to gather some effects together before we take it to the funeral," the man said before hanging up.Grant, who met Thal about six months ago, said Thal planned events at nightclubs and restaurants in Philadelphia, including Miss Tootsie's Soul Food Cafe and Plush Nightclub.Grant last saw Thal at a June 21 event at Saudia Shuler's Country Cooking Restaurant & Catering in North Philadelphia.

"It was outside in a big white tent.

We just went and had a ball," Grant said.Another friend of Thal's, Cheryl Davies, said Thal "was just the life of the party," and was known for planning events for athletes and celebrities at places such as Plush."She was the kind of person you would hire to make a new nightclub busy," said Davies, an event planner who works at Fuzion Grill & Social Club in Northern Liberties.At the Piazza at Schmidts yesterday, some of Thal's friends gathered for an impromptu memorial, said Thomas Updegrove, a fellow promoter and neighbor in Northern Liberties.

"I heard through Twitter, so I came," said Updegrove, who said he was scheduled to open the Piazza's fourth restaurant later this year."She was a very sweet girl.

I've known her for years.

She's worked in the industry - the restaurant and hospitality industry - for a long time, and had a lot of friends."�Contact staff writer Kristin E.

Holmes at 610-313-8211 or [email protected] staff writer Jeff Gelles contributed to this article.�

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/front_page/20090629_Two_homicides_at_Piazza_at_Schmidts.html
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