Just 21 days after gunfire killed an 8-year-old girl outside a Delaware County football game, the tragedy came eerily close to repeating itself.

This time, police were able to stop the violence from escalating.

This time, a child’s life didn’t end.

It was just after 8:40 p.m. Friday when numerous gunshots rang out near a football game at West Philadelphia High School at 48th and Spruce Streets. Police officers were there, assigned to monitor the game between West Philadelphia and Central High School.

They saw several juveniles running inside the field, jumping fences and hitting the ground, police said. They saw four young men running northbound on 49th Street toward Locust Street, followed them, and pulled in front of them on Locust.

A 14-year-old boy told them he had been shot in the left leg. The officers transported him to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. A short time later, a 16-year-old boy found by officers at 49th and Spruce told them he had been shot in the right ankle. He, too, was taken to CHOP. Police said they found 18 shell casings and one bullet at 49th and Spruce, where two vehicles and an apartment window were struck by gunfire. No arrests were reported.

Both boys are in stable condition, police said.

But on Aug. 27, another Friday night, a spray of bullets took the life of 8-year-old Fanta Bility in Sharon Hill outside a crowded football game between Academy Park and Pennsbury High School.

Fanta, who would have started third grade at the Sharon Hill School Aug. 30, had gone to the game to support her older sister, Mamasa, a cheerleader, and her cousin, who was playing in the game.

An unidentified gunman started shooting out of a crowd and police fired their weapons at him. Fanta was caught in a spray of bullets. Mamasa was also wounded in the shooting, and is now recovering at home.

Police officers probably fired the shots that killed Fanta, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said in early September.

Last Thursday, local and state politicians gathered at the site of her death and urged investigators to complete their probe in a timely, transparent manner.

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, whose district includes the Delaware County borough where Fanta was killed, said that residents are “holding on by a thread.”

Stollsteimer said in a statement that detectives remained “engaged in an active, intense, and thorough investigation to understand exactly what happened on that terrible night.”

As of Friday, Philadelphia had 378 homicide victims, up 16% from 2020. Just since Friday night, three men have lost their lives to gun violence. A 34-year-old was found shot once in the chest on Old York Road near Butler in Hunting Park just after 6 a.m. Friday. A 24-year-old was shot once in the head four blocks away in a home on Old York Road near Ontario at 10:43 p.m. Friday. A woman was apprehended and a firearm was recovered. And at 12:51 p.m. Saturday, a 54-year-old was shot once in the head and multiple times to the body on Cambria Street near 22nd in the Swampoodle section of North Philadelphia. No weapon was recovered.

So far this year, some 1,310 people have been victims of nonfatal shootings.