As the commanding officer of the Southwest Police Division, Philadelphia Police Inspector Derrick Wood has seen his share of gun violence. He’s been personally affected by it, too.
On Tuesday morning, he tweeted that his nephew had died the previous night in a fatal shooting, becoming the city’s 176th homicide victim this year.
“My nephew’s name is Tyshawn Woods, he was a 22 year-old black man. Say his name. His life mattered. #BLM,” Wood wrote, saying in another tweet that he knows that “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
A police spokesperson said Wednesday that no arrests had been made and that detectives are trying to determine a motive behind the shooting.
Wood, who oversees the four police districts that cover West and Southwest Philadelphia, also declined to speculate while the investigation continues. But he has been vocal on Twitter about gun violence, and said he turned there again in a bid to “galvanize” people, hoping to stir the same level of protest and action that police brutality and racism have sparked in recent weeks.
"There should be outrage when we lose young people to gun violence.… Everybody has to get involved. The police, the community, businesses,” Wood, 42, said Wednesday outside his nephew’s home in the city’s Logan section.
Wood said the May 25 death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis was “one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen” and “a modern-day lynching.” Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who killed Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes, rightfully was charged, Wood said, and he supports calls for police reform.
His nephew’s death also deeply touched him, making him both sad and angry. “I had to say something,” he said. “I just couldn’t sit back.”
Woods was the second nephew the inspector has lost to gun violence. In 2007, his sister Yvette’s son Maurice Woods, 18, was fatally shot. Yvette Woods, 51, raised Tyshawn, who graduated from Simon Gratz High School in 2017 and until a few months ago had been working at a Peloton warehouse in King of Prussia building bikes.
“He was a pleasant man, loved to joke around with his family,” Yvette Woods said of her nephew.
Wood, a 22-year veteran of the Police Department, has been a strong proponent of community engagement, whether it be through connecting residents in his police work to educational and job opportunities, or to social services, or when he was captain of the 35th District in Ogontz and supported his officers’ making a dance video with residents to the song “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by the hip-hop artist Silentó.
And while he has been vocal on Twitter about gun violence in the city, he also has taken to social media to share his personal losses.
His nephew was shot three times in his upper body Monday night at Blavis Street and Old York Road in the city’s Hunting Park neighborhood. Police said he was taken in a private vehicle to Einstein Medical Center, where he died.
Kenya Walker, 21, Tyshawn Woods’ girlfriend, said she got a call Monday night from one of the two young men who was with him and who took him to the hospital. Woods and two friends had gone by car to Old York and Blavis to buy alcoholic drinks from young women who sold them out of a car there, she said.
Woods was the only one who got out of his friend’s car to buy the drinks, Walker said. She said she heard that two other young men in another car then got out and started firing, hitting her boyfriend several times.
When Tyshawn’s friend called her Monday night, “he basically told me he didn’t know who it was” who shot her boyfriend, she said, wiping away a tear.
Wood noted that his Southwest Division and several community organizations are holding a “Brotherly March” on June 19 — the day of the Juneteenth holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery in America — to address gun violence. The 11:30 a.m. march will start at 52nd Street and Girard Avenue and head to Malcolm X Park at 51st and Pine Streets.
When he’s not on duty, Wood mentors with T.E.A.M. Inc.’s Men of Courage, a nonprofit program. He wishes more people would serve as mentors, or business owners would invest in distressed areas of the city. “Young people need somebody to talk to,” said Wood.
Said Wood: “We need more people to help out.”