Philadelphia police and prosecutors said Monday that they still have not determined a motive for last week’s shooting that wounded eight people at the Olney Transportation Center, and they declined to identify any suspects.
Chief Inspector Frank Vanore, who oversees the Police Department’s detective bureau, said investigators have evidence, including video from the surrounding area, but “don’t have enough to connect that evidence and be able to say exactly who the shooter is.”
“We need to know who was brazen enough to fire that gun that day,” Vanore said at a news conference in North Philadelphia with officials including District Attorney Larry Krasner and City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.
The shooting — which involved the highest number of victims of any Philadelphia incident in an already violent 2021 — happened around 2:50 p.m. on Wednesday, wounding two women and six men ranging in age from 17 to 71.
Police believe nearly all of the victims were bystanders. Law enforcement sources said last week that only one of the victims told investigators he could think of a reason he might have been targeted, and even that possible motive — a feud on social media — was vague.
At the news conference, Gauthier said gun violence was not only a public health emergency but “a racial justice” issue, noting that 86% of the people killed by gun violence last year were Black.
“The incident adds to the already too long list of Philadelphians shot or killed in the Black or brown communities that they reside in or that they traverse through,” Gauthier said.
She also asked that Mayor Jim Kenney join Krasner in briefing the public every week on the fight against gun violence and in implementing proven gun violence prevention models. After last week’s shooting, Kenney pledged to be more transparent and accountable on the issue.
“Let us not wait for the next mass shooting to act,” Gauthier said.
Vanore said Monday that the investigation had benefited from surveillance video, even though the footage largely covered the moments before and after the shooting, and not the gunfire itself.
Police believe the shooters opened fire on the south side of Olney Avenue before fleeing. Officers found at least 18 fired cartridge casings, and the victims were hit in their backs, ankles, legs, and arms. The oldest victim, a 71-year-old man, remained hospitalized Monday.
Two men were taken into custody at the scene, but police said the men were not believed to have participated in the shooting. They were charged with illegal gun possession and related counts, but not for participating in the gunfire.
Through Sunday, 266 people had been shot in Philadelphia this year, according to police statistics, a 59% increase compared to the same date last year.
At the news conference, Pastor Carl Day, of the Culture Changing Christians Worship Center in North Philadelphia and Montclair, N.J., asked fellow clergy members to take to the streets to combat the violence.
“We have to get outside, because clearly, snowstorms, pandemics, cold weather isn’t deterring anybody from still creating these acts of crime,” he said.