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At least 25 people were shot in Philadelphia this weekend, including two 11-year-olds, as gun violence keeps surging

Philadelphia police investigate the scene around 38th and Poplar St., by the Clayborn Lewis Community Center Playground. Six people were shot there just before 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night in one of the most violent weekends of the summer. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Philadelphia’s surge in gun violence continued over the weekend, with at least 25 people being shot on Saturday and Sunday, including two 11-year-old boys wounded in separate incidents, police said.

One of the boys was wounded in a triple shooting Sunday night in Grays Ferry. The other was shot near a playground Saturday night in Olney. Both suffered graze wounds and were in stable condition, according to police.

The bloodshed also included gunfire at a playground that injured six people, a shooting in East Mount Airy that killed a 25-year-old man, another man being shot overnight Sunday after leaving an Airbnb in Center City, and an incident in which two bullets struck the door of an officer’s patrol car, police said.

It was the latest in a series of exceptionally violent outbursts during the city’s most bloody year in more than a decade. And it came just days before City Council plans emergency hearings on how and why shootings keep increasing.

On Monday, almost 100 residents, activists, and city officials — including Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw — gathered for two hours outside City Hall to rally against the violence and call for change.

“We live in a city where, day in and day out, African American men and women are shot and murdered, and (if) we go about our lives, then shame on us,” City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson said. “We have a lasting commitment to make sure not one more young person’s life is taken by gun violence in this city.”

Kenney said it was time for the city to rededicate itself to curbing gun violence, saying: “We want to make sure that we listen to, and that we follow through with, the things we’re hearing today.”

Through Sunday, police statistics show, at least 1,139 people have been shot in Philadelphia this year — a 36% increase over the same span last year and an annual pace higher than any since at least 2007. Only five days this year have passed without a shooting in the city, and on at least 111 days, five or more people were shot.

On some days, the number of people shot could have been enough to overwhelm a hospital emergency room: On May 31 and June 1, for instance, at least 37 people were wounded by gunfire, and 23 people were shot on July 5, the most in a single day since at least 2013.

Those were just the worst days of three terrible months. More than 180 people were shot in May, 201 were shot in June, and 215 were shot in July, according to city statistics. The next-highest monthly tally over the last five years was in August 2015, when 162 people were shot.

The victims this year have included at least 102 people under age 18, according to an Inquirer analysis, a tally that will soon surpass the number of kids shot in the city over all of last year.

The rise in shootings has also led to a spike in homicides, unsurprising in a city where murders are overwhelmingly committed with guns. Police say 259 people have been killed in the city this year. That’s a 31% increase over the same date last year and the highest pace since the mid-1990s, when the city regularly recorded more than 400 homicides per year.

Police reported an arrest in only one of the weekend’s cases: the shooting of the officer’s car. They did not identify the man taken into custody, but said he injured another officer who tried to arrest him as he was riding away on an ATV.

Johnson has scheduled emergency hearings for Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the rise in shootings and possible efforts to combat it. Testimony is expected from leaders in the Police Department and District Attorney’s Office.

The weekend’s violence occurred in neighborhoods across the city, and was most intense Sunday, when at least 14 people were shot in 11 incidents, police said.

That includes the triple shooting that wounded one of the 11-year-old boys, police said. Gunfire erupted on the 1500 block of South Napa Street in Grays Ferry about 7:50 p.m. A 31-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman were also injured. Police said they were hospitalized in stable condition.

About an hour earlier, in East Mount Airy, 25-year-old Shaquan Gleaves was fatally shot on the 100 block of East Sharpnack Street. Police said Monday they believe two men fired at him from a moving car. No arrests had been announced.

About 4:40 a.m. Sunday, a 33-year-old man told police he was shot in a shin after walking away from an Airbnb on the 1000 block of Arch Street in Center City. The man told officers he then walked to a bus stop on the 1000 block of Market Street to call 911. He was hospitalized in stable condition, police said.

Saturday night, just before 10, an 11-year-old boy suffered a graze wound from a bullet near a playground in Olney, police said.

And about a half-hour before that, six people were shot — three women, ages 59, 18, and 24, and three males, ages 17, 18 and 18 — on a playground near the Philadelphia Zoo. All were hospitalized in stable condition, police said.

Police did not report any motive or arrests. Outlaw called the incident “senseless” and said: “These acts of lawlessness have no place in our communities.”

The violence continued Monday afternoon, when police reported five shootings in about four hours.

In one, on the 1100 block of South Peach Street in Kingsessing, a 29-year-old man was killed after he was shot once in the chest, police said.

At the rally outside City Hall, Dorothy Johnson-Speight, founder of the anti-violence group Mothers in Charge, said collective action was required to help turn the tide.

“Nobody’s safe until we’re all safe,” she said. “Where’s the damn outrage?”


© 2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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