A 15-year-old Philadelphia boy was recovering Tuesday after being shot 20 times the previous night, and veteran anti-violence community activists said the shooting was yet another sign of the gun violence plaguing the city.
Greg Thompson, program manager for Philadelphia Peaceful Surrender, a 12-year-old nonprofit that helps criminal suspects surrender to police, said the violence among teenagers and young adults is as troubling as ever.
“It’s bad out there, man,” said Thompson, who also works as an advocate for youth in the criminal justice system.
Police said Monday’s double shooting happened just after 8:30 p.m. When officers arrived at the 1000 block of Cambridge Street, they found one victim lying on the steps of a home suffering from two gunshot wounds to his left leg. He was treated at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
On the 900 block of North 11th Street, they found the other boy, the 15-year-old shot 20 times in the legs, arms, and feet. He was rushed to Temple University Hospital.
Evidence recovered from the scene led police to believe bullets were fired at the victims from two semiautomatic weapons. Officers also recovered several hundred dollars in cash that was blowing in the wind, Chief Inspector Scott Small said.
Police didn’t offer a motive for the shooting. But community activists noted the shooting occurred in a part of North Philadelphia embroiled in a turf war between young men.
“It’s a real bad turf war between Richard Allen and Penn Town, and 10th and Thompson too,” said Terry Starks, founder of the Express URself Urban Crisis Response Center of Philadelphia.
“We’ve got to let the community know that your children are being affected by who they hang with. And once they pick a side, they inherit the traits of what that next person is doing,” said Starks. He added that a 20-year-old man he had mentored was fatally shot June 9 at the nearby Spring Garden Homes, which is also seeing turf battles. Six others survived that shooting.
Starks knows firsthand about surviving gunshot wounds. In 2002, he was shot five times, including in his heart, during a robbery, he said.
“It matters where you get shot at and how fast you get to the hospital,” he said. “You got about 15 minutes. If you can control your breathing, then you can make it. But a lot of us panic, and that’s what takes us out of here.”