Posted on December 21, 2022

Philadelphia Records 500 Homicides for Second Year in a Row

Elie Rushing, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 20, 2022

Philadelphia has recorded its 500th homicide this year, surpassing a bleak milestone for the second year in a row as the city’s gun violence epidemic continues at an unrelenting pace, leaving devastating loss and trauma in its wake.

While the total number of homicides recorded so far this year is slightly lower than last year’s record-breaking total, it’s a loss of human life the city has only twice recorded in its known history, and matches the record of 500 killings set in 1990, at the height of the crack-cocaine epidemic.

Within this tragic total are mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, entrepreneurs and students. The victims were as young as 9 — like little Jamel Parks, fatally shot alongside his father, Jerry, on their way home from a Memorial Day barbecue — and as old as 78.

Thirty of those killed were juveniles. Seven were 14 years old or younger, their hopes and dreams — of becoming scientists and star athletes, of graduating from high school — cut far too short. Like Jeremiah Wilcox, 13; Nicolas Elizalde, 14; Sincere Zy’Ree, 16.

The deaths, the large majority by gun, extended to every corner of the city, from the depths of Southwest Philadelphia, to the edge of the Northeast. But communities of color, particularly Black and brown Philadelphians whose neighborhoods and schools have long faced disinvestment and been shaped by systemic racism, remained the most affected by the crisis — 84% of people killed or injured in shootings so far this year were Black.

The human toll of just one homicide is incalculable and the trauma cascading, from the mothers forced to bury a child, to the neighbor who witnessed the violence and called 911. Losing a loved one so violently and suddenly can physically and emotionally change a person, research shows, the overwhelming grief affecting everything from the ability to hold a job to relationships with others.

Philadelphia has been plagued by gun violence for decades, but a spike in shootings began in spring 2020, when the coronavirus epidemic upended the city’s social and economic safety nets, and has remained persistent ever since, reaching heights unseen in recent memory. Experts have said it could take years to fully understand what triggered the uptick, which has been seen nationwide.

Less than two hours before city leaders convened to discuss the state of the shootings crisis Tuesday afternoon, at least 50 shots were fired outside a North Philadelphia middle school. One bullet flew through a classroom as children were learning, forcing the school into lockdown. No one was injured.


{snip} So far this year, 23% of nonfatal shootings have been solved, compared with 19% in 2021, and 47% of homicides have been solved, compared with less than 43% last year.