As a mass shooting erupted on South Street in Philadelphia on Saturday night, killing three people and wounding 11 others, the scene was so chaotic that one victim didn’t realize he’d been shot until he saw blood running down his leg.
William “Rusty” Crowell, 69, suffered a graze wound to the back of his left leg after gunmen began firing at each other as he stood outside a music venue.
“I feel all right, but I feel like I am kind of in shock, in such disbelief this has happened to me,” he said Sunday. An approximately 1-inch-long bullet-shaped crater remains in the back of his left knee.
Crowell, of Pennsport, was the eldest of the night’s many victims. The others, authorities said, ranged in age from 17 to 43. The conditions of individual victims were not immediately clear, though police said Sunday they ranged from stable to critical.
Three people died: Kristopher Minners, 22; Alexis Quinn, 24; and Gregory “Japan” Jackson, 34. Minners was a second-grade boys’ resident adviser at Girard College, and Jackson was a boxer and coach who worked with young people in the city.
Most of the victims, such as Crowell, were bystanders, police said. They were struck after at least five gunmen began shooting at each other on the crowded street during an argument. No arrests have been made.
Crowell was in the area around 11 p.m. Saturday to watch a friend’s music set at Dobbs on South, at Third and South Streets. When he arrived, he said, South Street was packed with people, and it was difficult to walk through to reach the venue.
“It was like a big party,” said Crowell, who performs at open mic nights with his wife at Cosmic Café and Ciderhouse on Tuesdays.
After the music set ended, he stepped outside to wait for his friend. The crowds had grown, he said, and there was a group of about 40 people walking west on South Street, chanting something he couldn’t understand. He said he heard what sounded like somebody blowing a whistle, then all of a sudden, gunfire.
Someone was shooting, and bullets were flying south toward him, Crowell said. People crouched on the ground and ran in every direction as numerous shots rang out. Crowell was standing frozen, shocked and confused by what was going on, he said.
“I felt this slight pain in the back of my knee, and I look down and the blood is just running down my leg,” he said.
Dobbs’ bouncer yelled for everyone to get inside, and Crowell went in to try to clean up his wound. He heard someone yell that a man outside was hurt, and Crowell, a registered nurse, went out to try to help, he said.
The man, who Crowell said looked to be in his 30s, had been shot in the shoulder and was unresponsive.
Someone was already applying pressure to the wound, and before they could help further, Philadelphia police officers arrived and scooped the unconscious man into their cruiser to drive him to the hospital.
“He [had been] standing right next to me,” Crowell said of the victim.
Crowell didn’t see the shooter, he said, because the crowds were too thick.
He declined to go to the hospital. He was taken to a South Philadelphia police station, where he was eventually interviewed by detectives, and made it home around 3:30 a.m.
Crowell returned to the scene of the shooting Sunday afternoon to try to process what happened — and search the wall at Dobbs to try to find the bullet that grazed him.
“I was very fortunate, he said. “I could have lost a knee, I could have lost my life.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Alexis Quinn’s age. She was 24, not 27, as police said.