A woman who was seven months pregnant was fatally shot Saturday night while unloading gifts from her baby shower in what Philadelphia police say appears to have been a targeted hit outside her home in the city’s Crescentville section.
According to investigators, the 32-year-old was hit multiple times in the head and stomach at about 8:30 p.m. on the 6100 block of Palmetto Street. She and her unborn child were pronounced dead at Einstein Medical Center about a half-hour later.
As officers surveyed the scene, they found 11 spent shall casings littering the street corner where the woman’s Kia Soul had been parked, its cabin light still on and its interior still packed with packages of diapers and other gifts she had received at the shower earlier in the afternoon.
But as their investigation continued Sunday, homicide detectives remained tight-lipped. They did not release the victim’s identity or publicly discuss any leads they might have on a suspect or motive in the attack.
In a statement, police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw called the slaying — the latest in unrelenting number of gun deaths that have put the city on pace to break homicide records this year — “absolutely heartbreaking” and vowed that officers would not rest until a suspect was arrested.
“This attack appears to have been targeted,” she said, adding: “This heinous crime has sent shock waves throughout the country, and also highlights the intentional lack of regard that we are seeing for humanity.”
Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the city is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest — a $30,000 increase from the $20,000 the city typically offers in homicide cases.
“This news is deeply upsetting and heartbreaking,” Kenney tweeted, asking that anyone with information contact police by calling or texting 215-686-8477.
Meanwhile, on Palmetto Street, neighbors identified the dead woman as Jessica Covington, who they described as a familiar presence on the block, always quick to offer a smile and a wave. Her family had lived at the home since 2003, according to public records.
“She was a good person,” said a man who described himself as a former high school classmate of Covington’s but who declined to give his name. “She didn’t deserve that.”
Members of Covington’s family, who spent much of the day being questioned at Police Headquarters, declined to comment. The only outward indication of the violence that occurred the block the night before was chalk marks left by officers marking where the bullet casings had fallen.
With six fatal shootings across the city since Friday, 497 people have been slain so far this year — a toll already 13% higher than on the same date last year and an average rate of more than 40 homicides a month.
The total number killed in Philadelphia in 2021 is on rapid pace to exceed 500 before the year’s end — a grim milestone that would surpass the previous annual peak of 500 murder set in 1990 at the height of the crack-cocaine epidemic when the turf wars among dealers were endemic.
The number of female victims has grown, too. Women make up a greater share of all those killed and wounded by gunfire this year, statistics show. In 2020, about 6% of fatal gunshot victims were female. In 2021, 11% have been.
In the statement, Outlaw addressed the mounting death count.
The Crescentville murder, she said, “comes at a time when we are approaching another grim milestone. Soon, we will reach, and almost certainly surpass, 500 homicides in our beautiful city.
“This unconscionable loss of life is almost too much to bear. On its own, 500 lives cut short is a staggering number. But whatever the final total, what this number can never truly show are the thousands of other lives impacted by sudden and tragic loss.”
In all police said, four men and two women were shot and killed In separate cases across the city between Friday and Sunday.
The fatal gunfire occurred not only Crescentville in Northeast Philadelphia, but also in Port Richmond, Mantua, Mayfair, and, twice in Olney.
In the Mayfair case, police said the intended victim of a robbery shot and killed one suspect and critically wounded another. They said three people, all armed, approached the victim in the 3200 block of Longshore Avenue at 12:15 a.m. Saturday. Their target, whom police said was licensed to carry a gun, fired at them. One suspect ran off, but the two others were hit. Police said they had charged the wounded suspect in the case and brought no charges against the shooter.
In the Mantua homicide, a 24-year-old Sykea Patton was fatally shot just before 4 p.m. on the 800 block of North Preston Street while walking her twin 4-year-old sons home from school.
Though police have said they have a suspect in that case who was known to Patton, they had not made any arrests as of Saturday evening.
Patton’s father, Joseph Patton, mourned her death at a vigil in Mantua on Saturday evening.
“No woman deserves that,” he told NBC10. “Something has to change. It’s crazy.”
Outlaw, in her statement Sunday, agreed.
“We cannot undo what has already been done; however, we will continue to pursue any and all information that will bring justice and closure to each victim and their families,” she said. “The lives lost are not unique to one neighborhood or section of this city. It is beyond time that everyone comes together to be the catalyst for change in our communities.”
Staff writers Anna Orso, Dylan Purcell and Craig R. McCoy contributed to this article.