8 teens were shot waiting for a bus after school in Northeast Philadelphia, police say as they hunt for suspects who fled

At least eight high school students were shot Wednesday afternoon in a hail of gunfire while waiting at a transit bus stop in Northeast Philadelphia, authorities said in a news conference – the second time in a week young people in the city were shot en route to or from school.

The students, ages 15 to 17, were waiting just before 3 p.m. at the bus stop when three people got out of a car around the corner, walked up and fired at them at least 30 times, then fled, the police commissioner said. A 16-year-old was shot nine times, police said, while among all injured were leg, arm, back and upper-body wounds.

Authorities were still hunting Thursday afternoon for the three “armed and dangerous” suspects who got out of the car, plus its driver, they said at a news conference. They are conducting forensic testing on a blue Hyundai Sonata believed to have been involved, said Frank Vanore, Philadelphia Police deputy commissioner of investigations.

It’s not clear whether the gunfire was related to a deadly Monday afternoon shooting in which Philadelphia schoolchildren also were victims, Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel told reporters Wednesday, even as year-to-date homicides in the city are down about 30% and far below the highs of the pandemic years, police statistics show.

“If they are connected – and I don’t know if they are – we want to end this dispute very quickly,” Vanore said.

The incidents come as the United States grapples with an ongoing gun violence epidemic, particularly among youth. Firearms are now the No. 1 killer of children and teens in America, having surpassed motor vehicle accidents, which had been the leading cause of death among America’s youth until 2020.

The attacks also are among 71 mass shootings reported in the United States in the first 66 days of this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tallies those in which four people, not including shooters, are hit by gunfire.

The three suspects in Wednesday’s shooting in Philadelphia got out of a car and ran up behind the Northeast High School students, some wearing backpacks, according to surveillance video posted by police on X. Gunfire then erupted before the three retreated into the car, which drove off – all within about 10 seconds.

Police found 34 shell casings at the scene from three handguns, Vanore said.

The edited police video shows zoomed-in stills of each of the three suspects, saying all are males with thin builds. Each wore a mask, according to the video captions, which describe the clothing of each assailant; there is no description of the driver.

In pouring rain, Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker and Bethel vowed to roll out more law enforcement resources to fight back against this type of gun violence.

“It is hard to sit here and see in three days … 11 juveniles shot who were going and coming to school,” Bethel said. “The cowardly acts that we’ve seen over the last three days are unacceptable.”

Wednesday’s eight gunshot victims include two 15-year-olds, five 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old; one is a girl, Philadelphia police said in a news release. The teen shot nine times remains in critical condition, while the others are stable, police said Thursday.

Two Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority buses also were struck by gunfire, according to a spokesperson. No one on the buses was injured.

Police will ramp up resources, chief says

The mayor assured residents that city officials will do everything they can to ensure the public’s safety. “And we don’t apologize for using every legal and constitutional tool in our tool belt in order to get that done,” Parker added.

In Monday’s shooting, one teen was killed, two other teens were injured, and two women on a bus were hit by bullets in a shooting police labeled as “targeted.”

Investigators are also combing tips from the public and social media to figure out what may have led to Wednesday’s shooting.

“There’s some kind of dispute that happened before – we don’t know where, we don’t know how – and it led to this violence,” Vanore said.

“The downstream impacts if we do not address gun violence and we do not address guns is what we see today,” Bethel said. “As a result of what we’ve seen over the past three days, we are going to be ramping up our resources significantly.”

Transit police and Philadelphia police are working together on the investigation.

CNN’s Danny Freeman reported from Philadelphia and Steve Almasy reported and wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji, Michelle Watson and Yan Kaner contributed to this report.

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