Four men and a teenage boy were shot Thursday afternoon in the Ogontz section of North Philadelphia, just 24 hours after six police officers were shot in a gun battle that terrorized the Tioga neighborhood — on the very same street, two miles away.
Shortly before 4:30 p.m., police responded to reports of multiple people shot in the area of 15th and Conlyn Streets. One man was shot in the head and back, and was listed in critical condition. A 17-year-old suffered a gunshot wound to a hand. All the victims were taken to Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross said he believed the victims had been sitting together on Conlyn when someone opened fire. Ross said he believed that they were targeted, and that the shooting was gang-related.
The area has been subject to several months of gang-related violence, including back-and-forth shootings between rival crews that led to a local pool being temporarily closed. Detectives on the scene said preliminary information led them to believe that the most recent shooting was connected to that feud.
Police found bullets from two different-caliber weapons on the street, Ross said, but it was unclear if more than one shooter had targeted the group, or whether there was a shootout between groups.
On Wednesday, six officers were wounded by gunfire that erupted about 4:30 p.m. in the 3700 block of North 15th.
That standoff lasted for nearly eight hours around a rowhouse where the alleged shooter, Maurice Hill, was barricaded, along with two officers who were trapped upstairs. The two officers and three people they had handcuffed were safely removed during a SWAT operation around 10 p.m., and Hill later surrendered.
There was no immediate arrest in the quintuple shooting on Thursday. Witness accounts were hard to come by.
“No one has told us a thing,” Ross said, and added that some of the victims had not yet been identified.
A man sitting around the corner from the shooting scene, who declined to give his name, said that the youngest victim was his cousin. He said he had been on his way to the corner to lend the boy a book when he learned of the shooting. He had just left the corner moments ago, he said.
“It happens daily,” he said. “When you’re constantly being fired on, what can you do?”
Police placed evidence markers on the street — investigators recovered 26 shell casings; three parked cars were struck by gunfire — as neighbors picked around the caution tape cordoning off 15th and Conlyn. A woman who’d walked blocks out of her way to get around the shooting scene paused, out of breath, on her steps. The woman’s neighbor said she’d been sitting inside when the shots rang out.
“I got on the floor, I got behind my washing machine, and I waited for it to stop,” she said. “It’s crazy.”
Ross said visiting a second mass shooting in almost exactly 24 hours was exhausting and frustrating.
“You get frustrated. Physically tired. But we’re here. En masse,” he said, gesturing to the group of cops in the street.