Nearly halfway through 2022, following Philadelphia’s deadliest year in decades, people are again being shot at a record pace — but homicides are slightly down compared with this time last year.

Through Tuesday, nearly 1,100 people had been shot in the city, an 8% uptick compared with the same time last year, police data show. Following another violent holiday weekend, in which nine people were killed over three days, Philadelphia’s yearly homicide total has reached 245 victims, most of whom were shot.

Those killed have included a father and his 9-year-old son returning home from a barbecue; an accomplished lawyer visiting from the Philippines and heading to the airport; and a 22- and 24-year-old celebrating a night out with friends on South Street.

And most recently, on Tuesday morning, a 77-year-old man on an early morning walk outside his Juniata home was fatally shot point-blank in the back of the head in what police believe was a random attack. He was one of 10 people shot just that day.

Yet through all of this tragedy, city leaders are cautiously hopeful because there have been 15 fewer homicides in Philadelphia this year — a 6% drop — compared with the same time last year, when the city logged 562 killings, the highest on record in the city’s history, even surpassing the rate in 1990 at the height of the crack epidemic.

Law enforcement officials have said it may take years to fully understand the factors contributing to this unrelenting gun violence — a spike that is not unique to Philadelphia and that began hitting historic levels in 2020 amid a pandemic, economic upheaval, and a reckoning over racism that sparked social and political unrest.

Philadelphia’s increase in gun crime has been largely concentrated in communities of color where residents have long endured higher levels of violence alongside other systemic issues, such as poverty and lower life expectancy.

And all of this comes as Congress appears poised to pass the most significant gun legislation in decades, partly inspired by back-to-back mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, last month. The bipartisan bill, which would enhance background checks and “red flag” gun laws, is expected to pass the 60-vote threshold to clear the Senate filibuster.

On Wednesday, Mayor Jim Kenney continued to attribute the city’s violence to the high number of guns on the streets, and decry what he said is lack of action from state leadership to enact stricter gun laws. District Attorney Larry Krasner called for greater investment in violence prevention efforts like community centers and programming.

“Obviously there is no good news in 245 homicides, and we’re all very hopeful we’re going to see further improvement in these numbers,” Krasner said.

The top three motives for shootings remain the same as in years past: arguments, drugs, and domestic disputes, said Deputy Police Commissioner Joel Dales.

“A lot of these shootings are over silly things, such as having online beefs with one another – who’s been walking in my territory, who’s dissing me, who’s putting up a rap video disrespecting my block or my group,” he said.

About 50 people shot in West and Southwest Philadelphia in the last two years have been connected with gang-related feuds, said Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Palmer of the Gun Violence Task Force.

Shooters are using guns with extended magazines more frequently, Dales said, and relatedly, are firing a higher number of rounds at scenes. Police have also noticed gunmen are increasingly adding illegal attachments, or “switches,” to their guns that turn a handgun into a fully automatic weapon with the simple flip of a switch.

Still, some incidents happen seemingly without explanation, such as the death of 77-year-old Loi Nguyen on Tuesday.

At 5:33 a.m., police said, Nguyen was on a morning walk outside his Juniata home when a man came jogging down his street and, from behind, shot Nguyen in the back of the head, killing him.

Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said police believe that just before the shooting, the suspect was involved in an argument nearby where weapons were drawn, and he then jogged down the road and randomly targeted Nguyen.

Meanwhile, calls for change among community members and antiviolence advocates continue.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, a group called the Mother’s Movement, composed of mothers who have lost children to gun violence, will gather outside City Hall to demand a series of actions to slow the gun violence epidemic, including asking the city to declare a state of emergency.

“These are our children dying every day,” said Movita Johnson Harell, who lost two sons to gun violence and founded the CHARLES Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on violence intervention. “We need collaboration and coordination.”

“There’s no accountability in our communities for the homicides,” she said. After the mass shooting on South Street earlier this month, in which 14 people were shot, the neighborhood “got the mayor, the police commissioner, and district attorney to respond to them,” she said. “Nobody’s briefing us.”

And Saturday morning, a group of medical students from Jefferson Hospital are expected to march in their white coats from 10th and Locust Streets to the Delaware River.

City officials, meanwhile, continue efforts to slow the violence. In a budget City Council is expected to pass tomorrow, $184 million is allocated for violence prevention efforts, including $5 million for updates to the crime forensic lab and $250,000 for police recruitment efforts. Council is also poised to enact a controversial 10 p.m. curfew for all juveniles this summer.

And in a new partnership announced last week, Pennsylvania state police will fill in to help patrol the city’s most violent areas, as the city’s police force remains considerably understaffed.

Staff reporter Mensah Dean contributed to this story.