‘Please stop shooting each other’: Officials appeal for peace as Philadelphia records 500th homicide of 2021

·3-min read
A 55-year-old woman became the 500th victim of homicide in Philadelphia this year (WPVI-TV)
A 55-year-old woman became the 500th victim of homicide in Philadelphia this year (WPVI-TV)

Philadelphia witnessed its 500th homicide of 2021 on Wednesday after a 55-year-old woman was gunned down, in what is being described as the city’s worst year since 1990.

A video of the incident showed the woman screaming “call 911” while running towards two pedestrians in South Philadelphia around 4.30pm on Wednesday.

While the pedestrians fled, another man entered the camera frame with a gun in hand. He followed her around a jeep and fired at her five times. Three of them hit her chest. The victim was taken to a hospital but doctors declared her dead on arrival.

The alleged shooter, who police believe is the woman’s husband, was seen casually walking down the street after committing the crime. Police have urged him to turn himself in.

The fatal shooting came days after a 24-year-old woman was shot by her former boyfriend in front of her young children. In another incident, a seven-months pregnant woman, arriving home from a baby shower, was shot at least 11 times in the abdomen on 20 November. The 32-year-old was pronounced dead at a medical centre soon after, also losing her unborn child.

“Please stop shooting each other,” city council president Darrell Clarke said at a news conference on Wednesday. “Stop killing our community please.”

“The message is going out to all those that find themselves at the level of despair where they think it’s no other way or to find themselves in whatever mindset it is that causes you to shoot a pregnant woman. Think about it, man. Don’t continue this activity because it is killing our communities,” he said.

“There is a better way,” Mr Clarke added. “We just put $155 million on the street with community groups, right? We have jobs available. We have wraparound services available.”

Police commissioner Danielle Outlaw called the spike in killing an unconscionable loss of life that is “almost too much to bear.”

“These victims are far more than a number. It’s not about when we reach 200, 300, 500, 600. These are people... And for those whose lives have been tragically cut short, their life has left a void in the hearts of their families and their absence has left a profound impact on our community,” she said.

Ms Outlaw reminded people that there was a standing $20,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions.

There has been an uptick in gun violence in the city amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the collapse of the American economy.

In October, Philadelphia announced that it would spend $14m (£10.5m) to equip all of its officers with stun guns, train them on how to use them and require officers to wear them while on duty.

The announcement was made on the anniversary of the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. On 26 October 2020, Wallace, a Black man, was shot 14 times by two white police officers for holding a knife.

Meanwhile, mayor Jim Kenney accused lawmakers of failing to act on the flow of illegal guns into the city.

“It’s heartbreaking, heart-wrenching, it’s terrible to have to get up every morning and look at the numbers,” he said.

“There are people making money selling these guns, making these guns, and the legislature, not the people behind me, don’t care. They don’t care how many people get killed,” Mr Kenney added.

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