Philadelphia police were investigating Monday whether a turf war between residents of two public housing complexes contributed to the most violent incident on one of the summer’s deadliest weekends.
Multiple gunmen opened fire in a crowd of about 200 people Saturday night at an annual North Philadelphia street party organized to remember an 18-year-old basketball star who was fatally shot in 2013. Five people were shot and wounded.
The incident near 10th and Brown Streets in the Richard Allen Homes was part of a weekend of violence during which more than 30 people were shot across the city. It happened at a neighborhood event honoring Quahdir Devine, known among friends and family as “Quack.” The teenager was a Benjamin Franklin High School student whose life was cut short seven years ago when he was gunned down on New Year’s Eve near Seventh Street and Girard Avenue.
Devine, whose likeness appears on street art and signage at the East Poplar Playground nearby, played basketball there and still has relatives in the area, said Anthony Jimenez, manager of a corner store near 10th and Brown.
A police source said Monday the gunfire may have been related to a turf war between people living at Richard Allen and residents of the Spring Garden Apartments, a PHA housing development a few blocks away, often referred to by its former name of Penn Town, where seven people were shot and one killed in June. The feud has reportedly lasted for years.
Devine’s mother, Tracey, said Monday that an annual basketball tournament at the playground, which would normally occur on the Saturday after her son’s Aug. 12 birthday, was canceled this year because of the coronavirus. She said residents would then have a street party afterward, but this year she told the organizers not to hold it.
Police said the gathering — banned amid pandemic-related crowd-size limits — had swelled to more than 200 people hanging out and drinking when shots rang out. The shooters were believed to have come from outside the immediate neighborhood, but it’s unclear if they arrived on foot or by vehicle.
Police were already in the area about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Sunday. They saw what appeared to be a muzzle flash and heard a boom, and then almost simultaneously heard gunshots from a different type of weapon, she said.
When officers arrived, “several males began shooting at the police,” police said. Officers went toward the shots and found some of the victims, Outlaw said, without specifying exactly where. No police officers were shot, officials said.
The five people who were shot, including three teenagers, did not have life-threatening injuries, police said. Among them were an 18-year-old man shot in the left ankle, a 21-year-old man shot twice in the right side, a 26-year-old man shot once in the left calf, a 17-year-old girl shot in the upper right arm, and a 19-year-old woman shot in the left leg, authorities said.
On Monday morning near 10th and Brown, residents mostly declined to talk about the shootings.
Police said Monday that numerous fired cartridge casings were recovered from Saturday night’s shooting. On the 900 block of Brown there were 32 7.62 mm rifle casings, eight .40-caliber casings, six .45-caliber casings, and five 9 mm shells. On 10th near Brown, police recovered nine 9 mm casings and two .40-caliber shells.
Officer Tanya Little, a police spokesperson, said Monday there have been no arrests so far in the quintuple shooting. Police also had not determined a motive, she said.
There were also two separate triple shooting incidents in Philadelphia Sunday, and the weekend spate of violence added to the homicide rate. According to police statistics, there were 270 homicides as of Sunday night, a 31% increase from the same period last year.
“It’s disturbing, it’s disheartening,” Outlaw said of the weekend’s violence. Mayor Jim Kenney on Twitter called for stricter gun control measures, saying, “Military-grade weapons should not be on our streets.”
In all Saturday, police reported 17 people shot, including a man believed to be 20 who was fatally shot in the head about 9:20 p.m. on the 2100 block of Webster Street in Southwest Center City, police said.
Eleven people were shot Sunday, three fatally, including a man whose age was unknown who was shot 10 times on the 5000 block of Merion Street about 3:30 a.m. in West Philadelphia. Less than two hours later, a 40-year-old man was fatally shot inside a car on the 4700 block of Lansing Street in the Holmesburg section.
And just before 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, a man in his 30s was fatally shot near 55th and Vine Streets in West Philadelphia. He was shot twice in the back and once in the arm by occupants of a burgundy sedan, police said.
No arrests were made in any of those slayings, according to police.
The shootings continued Monday, with two people killed before morning broke. A 19-year-old man who was inside a Mazda was fatally shot in the chest about 1:15 a.m. while on the 700 block of West Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia.
Then, about 2:40 a.m., a 30-year-old man was shot once in an armpit while on the 800 block of East Madison Street in Kensington. He was pronounced dead 20 minutes later at Temple University Hospital.