Philly’s violent year continues. The latest victims include a 2-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy.
Three more people were slain Thursday, increasing Philadelphia's murder count to 96 this year, a 37% increase from this time last year.
Philadelphia’s murder rate continued its record-setting pace Thursday, with four more people killed, including a 2-year-old girl found unresponsive in her Tacony home, a 16-year-old boy gunned down at a West Philly rec center, and a 24-year-old man among four victims shot in an Overbrook Park parking lot.
As of midnight Thursday, there had been 96 slayings recorded in the city this year, up 37% from the 70 slayings through the same span last year, according to the Police Department. At least one more was reported Friday evening involving the fatal shooting of a woman in Northeast Philadelphia.
The rash of shootings drew city officials to the Christy Rec Center Friday afternoon, where they pledged new efforts to combat the violence. Not far from two cars with bullet-riddled windows, Mayor Jim Kenney announced his administration would have biweekly meetings to address the violence and a greater police presence at the rec center and in the neighborhood.
”My promise to Philadelphians is that we will do everything within our power to stem the appalling level of violence we are currently experiencing,” said Kenney, who was joined at the news conference on the basketball court by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, District Attorney Larry Krasner, and U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans.
Officials also said more rec centers citywide would soon be opening after being closed for much of last year, and will offer expanded services including summer camps and meals. Said Outlaw: “The level of gun violence that has plagued our city during the past year has become far too much to bear.”
In particular, the deadly stretch also has brought a surge in shootings and killings of children. Prior to Thursday’s violence, children already accounted for 10% of all homicide victims this year. Philadelphia Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said through March 9 nine children had been slain this year, up from three over the same span last year.
Smith said the violence among young people is being driven by the flood of guns on the streets, schools being closed due to the coronavirus, and feuds on social media platforms such as Instagram. “It’spetty nonsense, it really is,” he said. “But they take it seriously.”
At the rec center shooting, Smith said the four gunmen who emerged from an SUV exchanged gunfire with a gunman on the court. Kahree Simmons, 16, of the Cobbs Creek area, was shot in the back of the neck just after 7:30 p.m. while playing basketball with other teens at the Christy Recreation Center at 728 S. 55th St., police said.
When officers arrived, the teen was lying on a bench behind the center, suffering from the gunshot wound, police said. He was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and died at 8:16 p.m. A boy and girl, both 15, were treated for graze wounds. Police said they are looking for four males who exited a small SUV and opened fire on the playground.
There has been no arrest in the death of the 2-year-old girl found dead in her Tacony home, police said Friday.
A 911 call for an unresponsive child led authorities to the home Thursday afternoon in the 6300 block of Marsden Street, where they found the child with injuries to her face and body. She later died at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Police did not release her name.
Smith said the mother and godmother are being questioned. The godmother had been taking care of the child since November because heat had been turned off at the mother’s home, Smith said.
Police are also investigating the shooting of three men and a juvenile in the 1400 block of North 76th Street in Overbrook Park just after 3 p.m. Thursday. Investigators said the victims were in a car parked in a condo parking lot filming a rap music video, when two gunmen approached and opened fire.
Naquon Smith, 24, died shortly after being shot, and Tamir Brown, 17, an up-and-coming rapper, died later that night, Smith said. He said the victims are members of a violent street gang which he declined to name, and police are sorting through video for evidence related to the attack.
In the Friday night killing, police said a 24-year-old woman was shot multiple times while sitting in her car on the 8800 block of Frankford Avenue just before 6 p.m. She was pronounced dead at Jefferson Torresdale Hospital at 6:27 p.m. No arrest was reported.