Multiple people shot during Eid festival in Philadelphia

At least three people have been shot and five have been arrested, after a shooting occurred at an Eid al-Fitr event in West Philadelphia, according to city police.

Local sources said the incident occurred during a festival where around 1,000 people had gathered to celebrate the holiday near Wyalusing Avenue in Philadelphia. Officers were already at the event “writing tickets” for nearby cars when gunshots were heard, police commissioner Kevin Bethel said.

Gunfire had erupted in “two factions” within the park, Mr Bethel said, noting that they heard 30 shots fired.

An officer then “engaged” a 15-year-old male who had a weapon. The police officer fired, striking the teen in the shoulder and the leg.

A 22-year-old male was also shot in the stomach though he is believed to have been struck in the initial gunfire exchange. Another juvenile was also shot in the hands.

A total number of victims and their conditions is currently unkown, though police said there were no fatalities. The Philadelphia Fire Department told CBS News that at least one person was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for treatment.

Philadelphia Shooting (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Philadelphia Shooting (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Four people have been taken into custody, according to the outlet, though it is unclear if police are considering the four suspects at this time. Multiple firearms have reportedly been seized by police.

The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear.

SWAT units arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting began. Police were also spotted trying to document and collect evidence from the crime scenes. Debris was strewn across the scene at Clara Muhammad Square in the aftermath of the shooting, including blankets, strollers, coolers and a number of shoes left behind by celebrants.

Commissioner Bethel also said that a young girl had been accidentally struck by a police vehicle during authorities rapid response and had suffered a fractured leg.

“Clearly we send our prayers out to her and her family,” he said. “That is not our intended purpose and we will make sure we will be following up with her and her family to let them know that.”

A witness who said her family member was shot in the stomach said they were at the festival celebrating when they heard shots rings out around 2:30pm local time.

“Everyone just started running and scattering around,” the witness told CNN affiliate WPVI. “You heard babies crying, people crying, people on the ground. It was crazy.”

She added: “You can’t even have a celebration without having to worry about somebody getting shot.” The witness said a few seconds after the first volley of shots another round of shots went off, and festival goers continued to flee the violence.

Another witness, Zania Weatherford, had just gone to her car for a moment when she heard the gunfire and saw people running across the street. She called relatives at the event to make sure they were safe.

“Last year, someone set off firecrackers and scared everyone,” Mr Weatherford told the Associated Press. “This is just a celebration of life for God to forgive us for our sins. There’s one month that God chains the devil down, so whoever did this can’t even blame the devil.”

Philadelphia Council Member Jamie Gauthier said her day started by celebrating Eid al-Fitr at Philadelphia Masjid — then just hours later, that celebration was interrupted by sounds of gunfire.

Ms Gauthier called it “heartbreaking” that thousands “were traumatized during what was supposed to be a holy and joyful day.”

“No one should fear for their life at their place of worship,” she wrote on X. “I reiterate that the best way to prevent mass shootings like this one is to enact commonsense gun safety measures that will stem the flow of guns into our neighborhoods.”

Pennsylvania conrgressman, Dwight Evans also described the incident as “heartbreaking”.

“Gun violence is never acceptable, but to see it victimize people who gathered for a Ramadan event or any religious event is especially heartbreaking. We must all continue working for change, because thoughts & prayers are not enough,” Mr Evans wrote.

Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.

Practioners fast during the month, and Eid serves as a fast breaking celebration to mark the end of the season. Typical festivities include congregational prayers, feasts, and family gatherings.