Chris Palmer and Mensah M. Dean, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 2021
Late Thursday night, someone opened fire on a North Philadelphia street and shot three people. One died: the city’s 300th homicide victim of 2021.
The fatal shooting meant that the city had reached 300 killings more quickly in a single year than any since at least the 1970s. And it kept Philadelphia on pace to top not only last year’s 499 homicides, but also its all-time record of 500 slayings in a year, set in 1990.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement that “the brazenness with which these assaults are carried out is appalling. The lack of regard for human life is affecting innocent bystanders and our children are being caught in the cross fire.”
Outlaw said that officers were continuing to seize illegal guns in record numbers, and that police remained “laser-focused on enforcing the law while deterring crime,” while pledging that police would continue to seek partnerships with other agencies and community members “to effect long-term and sustainable change.”
The incident on Susquehanna Avenue was one of at least three shootings that night, according to police. In all, six people were wounded or killed.
Chief Inspector Scott Small told reporters at the scene that unidentified gunmen fired toward houses on the block and the teen was struck by stray bullets as she was on her front porch.
By Friday morning, the neighborhood had drawn police and antiviolence activists, some of whom held signs denouncing shootings and speaking through a bullhorn to neighbors and passing motorists. The street was littered with dark tinted glass from the windows of a black SUV that was hit during the gunfire.
The last time the city logged 300 homicides by the summer was in the 1990s, according to department statistics. Still, even in that decade, the earliest the city reached the bleak milestone was in 1990, when the 300th slaying was recorded on Aug. 3.
Already this year, more than 1,200 people have been shot citywide, police statistics show — 24% more than through the same date last year, and more than were shot in all of 2017. Of them, 259 have died, the statistics say.
July has been marked by an even more alarming surge. In the first 14 days of this month, police statistics show, 135 people were shot, including 11 children.
Friday afternoon, the violence continued: Police said a 28-year-old woman suffered a graze wound when she was struck by a bullet on Old York Road and Lycoming Street in Hunting Park.