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Shootings of multiple victims are becoming commonplace in gun-plagued Philadelphia

Shootings of four or more victims are up sharply this year in Philadelphia.

The aftermath of a shooting that left one person killed and three people wounded at South 55th Street and Kingsessing Avenue on Wednesday.
The aftermath of a shooting that left one person killed and three people wounded at South 55th Street and Kingsessing Avenue on Wednesday.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

The number of people killed and injured in shootings of four or more victims has spiked sharply in Philadelphia this year and is helping to push the homicide count to a record high, city crime data analyzed by The Inquirer indicate.

As of Thursday, there had been eight shootings in which four or more people were struck by bullets, with a total of 42 victims. At the same time last year, there had been two shootings with a total of nine victims, according to the data.

Seven people have died in shootings of four or more victims so far this year, while there was just one death in such a shooting by this time last year, the records indicate.

Charles Reeves, a youth mentor and longtime president of the Tasker-Morris Neighborhood Association, said he suspects multiple shootings are on the rise because in many cases the gunmen are young and inexperienced.

“Are these professional shooters? No,” he said. “They have no respect for life. They’re not afraid of the police. They’re not afraid of shooting innocent people in the middle of the afternoon. This shows you the mind-set that is going around the city.”

In addition to an increase in quadruple shootings, the number of shootings this year in which three people were struck is also ahead of last year’s tally. There have been 12 such shootings with 36 victims so far, compared with 33 victims of triple shootings at the same time last year, the numbers show.

The rise in these incidents does not appear to be tied to a common motive, location, or time of day. It was early afternoon on Feb. 17 when gunmen opened fire at the Olney Transportation Center, wounding eight — two women and six men ranging in age from 17 to 71.

In another incident, on March 26, around 8 p.m., seven people were shot, including four critically, outside the Golf & Social sports bar on the 1000 block of North Delaware Avenue in Fishtown. On the same date, there was a triple shooting on the 2100 block of East Rush Street in Kensington, the records show.

On Jan. 15, there was a quadruple shooting on the 5000 block of North 10th Street in the Logan section, and 45 minutes later, a triple shooting on the 5800 block of Trinity Street in Kingsessing.

The shooters are “unchecked, unchallenged, and unafraid,” said Greg Thompson, a youth mentor and founder of the Don’t Fall Down in the Hood program. “They realize that very few people are going to tell on them because it’s been deemed honorable to be dishonorable.”

Philadelphia police on Thursday identified the latest victim of a quadruple shooting, a 20-year-old man who was killed Wednesday afternoon by a hooded gunman who fired at him and three other men on a Kingsessing sidewalk.

Raheem Edwards, of the 6000 block of Chester Avenue, was shot 11 times throughout his body at 4:15 p.m. and was pronounced dead within the hour at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. He had been standing in a group of about eight people outside a store near the corner of 55th Street and Kingsessing Avenue when the gunman approached and opened fire. The gunman is still being sought, police said Thursday.

The three other men struck by bullets — a 29-year-old shot four times, a 24-year-old shot three times, and an 18-year-old shot once — are in stable condition at the same hospital, police said. The motive for the attack is still unknown.

Edwards’ slaying followed one of the most violent weekends in Philadelphia history, during which seven people were killed in 14 shootings that included a quintuple shooting, two triple shootings, and three double shootings.

As the multiple shootings increase, so does the city’s homicide count, which is on track to surpass last year’s tally of 499 slayings and the all-time record of 500 in 1990. By Thursday morning, the number of those killed in the city this year had climbed to 191, according to the Police Department, an increase of 39% over last year’s toll.