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Eight people shot near Olney Transportation Center, Philly police say

Authorities said the shooting happened at 2:50 p.m., and the victims ranged in age from 17 to 71.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Daniel Outlaw speaks to the media at Broad and Olney where eight people were shot at about 3 p.m. Wednesday,  Feb. 17.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Daniel Outlaw speaks to the media at Broad and Olney where eight people were shot at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

Eight people were shot near the Olney Transportation Center on Broad Street and Olney Avenue Wednesday afternoon, leaving a man in his 70s in critical condition and Philadelphia police seeking to learn why someone opened fire at a busy intersection in broad daylight.

The shooting happened around 2:50 p.m. and wounded two females and six men ranging in age from 17 to 71. The oldest victim was in critical condition, police said, with gunshot wounds to his back and both legs. A 70-year-old man was struck in the thigh.

Police had initially said the shooting left seven people wounded, but they later reported that an eighth victim walked into Einstein Medical Center with a graze wound.

Chief Inspector Frank Vanore, who oversees the detective bureau, said it was not clear Wednesday night who fired or why — or even if they had a target. But he said two people were taken into custody: one man who was chased down by SEPTA officers who heard the gunshots, and another who was apprehended in a Chevrolet that police believe was used to drive the suspects to the scene.

Both men were found with guns, Vanore said, and detectives were seeking to interview suspects and witnesses and review surveillance video to determine what happened and why.

The crime was the latest bloody incident in an already-violent 2021 in the city. No other single shooting had wounded as many people this year.

Still, 270 people have been shot so far in 2021 — a 66% increase over last year’s pace, according to police statistics. Police had also reported 71 homicides as of Tuesday, a 48% increase compared with this time last year.

Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that he was “beyond sickened” by the shooting, which he called “vicious, outrageous, and unacceptable,” adding: “We must rise together with one clear and united moral voice against the evil act of violence. People have the right to travel between work and home, and around town, without the fear of being shot, and possibly killed, by reckless, indiscriminate gunfire.”

Few in the area of the shooting were eager to talk about what might have happened. And by 5:30 p.m., while traffic remained blocked off on Olney, cars that had backed up along Broad Street began to inch forward again as some people near the transportation hub asked police how they could catch their buses home.

Vanore said the incident started around 2:50 p.m., when the Chevrolet pulled up on Olney Avenue and at least one person, possibly two, got out and started shooting. He said it was not clear if the suspects were targeting anyone. Police found at least 18 fired cartridge casings at the scene.

The victims were two females, ages 36 and 17, as well as five men, ages 21, 22, 48, 53, 70, and 71, according to police. They were struck in their backs, ankles, legs, and arms, and the 71-year-old was in critical condition after being shot once in the stomach and several times in both legs.

Seven of the victims were being treated at Einstein Medical Center, police said, while one was taken by police to Temple University Hospital.

Police declined to identify the people taken into custody, or say what charges they might face.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, speaking to reporters at the scene, urged anyone with information to speak with police.

“This is happening far too often, it’s happening in broad daylight,” she said. “And we need everyone to come together to help us solve these cases.”

Staff photographers Steven M. Falk and Jessica Griffin contributed to this article.