Harley Belance, 11, was killed on Friday evening as he and another boy rode a motorized scooter in Philadelphia’s Oxford Circle neighborhood.
The boys were struck by gunfire around 6:30 p.m. Police had not determined Saturday whether they were the intended targets. Police responded to a call on the 1500 block of McKinley Street at 7 p.m. and found Harley with a gunshot wound in his neck. He died at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
The other boy, 14, was shot in the arm and ankle. He was in stable condition Saturday.
“At this point, we don’t know the motivation behind the shooting, we don’t know if they were the intended targets,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told CBS3 on Friday evening. “Our detectives are out here canvassing the block, we have detectives at the hospitals speaking to witnesses, and we’re doing everything that we can to figure out as quickly as possible why these two boys were shot.”
Police said a man was seen firing from steps on the 1400 block of McKinley Street. Officers responded to a call for a “person with a gun.” No arrests have been made.
The year has seen an uptick in gun violence against minors: As of March 9, children had been the victims in about 10% of all slayings in the city this year. Nine had been killed in the city by that date; police could not provide updated statistics Saturday.
Among those killed this year are 15-year-old Antonio Walker Jr., who was fatally shot while playing basketball with his cousin, and 15-year-old Embaba Mengesteabe, who was hit by bullets while in a car with her brother.
Friday night also saw seven people shot in Fishtown after a gunman fired into a crowd outside a sports bar; of those, two were under 18.
The year has been marked by an overall increase in shootings and homicides. As of late Friday, 114 people had been killed by homicide to date in 2021, a 30% increase over this time last year.
And as of March 21, 435 people had been victims of shootings this year, compared to 291 over the same time period in 2020, according to the most recent police data.
This story has been updated with the correct last name for Harley Belance, who was identified by police with an incorrect last name on Saturday.