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Mayor Jim Kenney and DA Larry Krasner clash over charging man in South Street mass shooting

The mayor said all shooters involved in the mass shooting should be "locked up." Said Krasner's spokesperson: Kenny is "not a cop ... not an attorney."

Flowers and candles lie on the sidewalk at 3rd and South Streets, the site of the mass shooting on Saturday.
Flowers and candles lie on the sidewalk at 3rd and South Streets, the site of the mass shooting on Saturday.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Taking issue with a decision by District Attorney Larry Krasner, Mayor Jim Kenney said Wednesday that anyone who fired a weapon during Saturday night’s mass shooting on South Street deserved to be jailed — including the man prosecutors said had acted in self-defense.

Speaking at a virtual gun-violence briefing, Kenney said: “Anybody who fired a gun that day should be locked up.”

Krasner’s office took exception to the mayor’s comments. “He’s not a cop, he’s not an attorney,” said Jane Roh, Krasner’s spokesperson. “The DA and our entire office is incredibly frustrated with the gun violence that’s happening.

“But just like the mayor, we are bound by the law, we cannot invent crimes that don’t exist and facts that aren’t true.”

» READ MORE: What we know so far about the South Street incident

The Kenney-Krasner exchange came as investigators still were trying to sort out the details of how a perfect storm of chaos erupted on a splendid June evening in one of the region’s most popular gathering places.

Three were killed and 11 wounded in an incident that claimed more victims than any single episode of gun violence in Philadelphia in the last seven years. It followed recent mass shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

As of Wednesday evening, two gunmen had been arrested and arraigned on charges related to the shooting, and police were searching for two other unnamed suspects whose photos they had released to the public.

Police on Wednesday identified one of the gunmen who fired into the crowd, possibly striking at least one of the two fatally shot bystanders. Roh said a warrant has been issued for the suspect, who is wanted for murder and other offenses. She declined to name the individual, but Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said he was the suspect whose photo police had released Tuesday. Police say he fired a .40-caliber handgun into the crowd.

Roh added that prosecutors hoped soon to issue a warrant for another person suspected of firing a gun into the panicked crowd. Authorities have not provided any further details, but police Wednesday evening did release photos from surveillance footage that included an image of the person in question.

On Wednesday morning, Quran Garner, 18, who police say had fired a ghost gun into a mass of people as the panic intensified, was charged with four counts of aggravated assault, two counts of assault of a law enforcement officer, firearms offenses, and related crimes, court records show. Garner, is being held in lieu of $2 million and is being represented by the Defenders Association of Philadelphia, which had no immediate comment.

He was ordered held for trial along with Rashaan Vereen, 34, who prosecutors say was involved in a brawl that ignited the melee. He was charged with attempted murder, conspiracy, and aggravated assault. Vereen’s bail was set at $350,000. No attorney was listed for him.

While not accused of firing a gun, prosecutors say, Vereen was involved in a melee that turned deadly when one of his friends, Gregory Jackson, pulled out a firearm and began shooting at a man Jackson and Vereen had been beating.

Jackson had obtained the gun permit despite being arrested for carrying an illegal weapon in 2020, according to court records. A clerical error at a district court in Delaware County delayed that case against Jackson for months, and he was able to apply for a concealed-carry permit, court officials said.

» READ MORE: Clerical error allowed South Street shooter to get a carry permit

Prosecutors said that Jackson, 34, was shot and killed by Micah Towns, 23, who fired after Jackson had shot him. Micah remains hospitalized in critical condition.

“We looked at what happened to [Towns] and said, ‘That’s self-defense,’” Krasner said.

Kenney, however, said he believed that Towns should have walked away from the fight — and that in failing to do so he bore some responsibility for what followed along several blocks of South Street.

“There should be some price, some inconvenience, for that person who could have walked away, could have continued walking away, but came back and reignited the situation,” Kenney said.

» READ MORE: Philly is grieving after the South Street mass shooting

While the precise sequence of the confrontation was unclear, police said it was Jackson who fired first during the brawl.

Deputy Police Commissioner Ben Naish said that the decision on whom to charge was left up to prosecutors and that police had made no formal recommendation. He said police had worked closely with the District Attorney’s Homicide Unit throughout its investigation.

In addition to Jackson, the others killed Saturday night were identified as Kristopher Minners, 22, and Alexis Quinn, 24. The 11 wounded ranged in age from 17 to 69 years old.

Minners, who had turned 22 last Thursday, was in the midst of his birthday festivities when he was killed.

“Lexx” Quinn, a home-health aide who grew up in Southwest Philadelphia, was remembered by her family as a loyal and loving daughter who “brought people together.”

While touring South Street and visiting merchants Tuesday with Kenney, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw suggested that those killed were victims of a disturbing trend. These days, she said, fistfights are being replaced by gunfights, very much related to availability.

“Guns appear to be falling out of the sky,” she said.

Wednesday evening, Outlaw and Krasner — a last-minute addition who was greeted with jeers when he arrived — appeared at a vociferous community meeting before about 300 Queen Village residents. Krasner pushed back on suggestions that his office is failing to prosecute wrongdoers.

“The only thing we do not pursue is possession of marijuana,” said Krasner as residents cut him off.

”That’s a blatant lie! That’s why we’re all here!” yelled one resident. Krasner said that most of the residents’ complaints — including noise, rowdy youths, and “vulgar” behavior — fell into the category of disorderly conduct.

Krasner went on to explain that sex workers were the other cases his office would not prosecute because they were considered victims.

Outlaw said that her officers were stressed, the force was understaffed, and that the racial justice protests two years ago have had a “chilling effect,” but that police weren’t ignoring crimes.

“We need you to support us,” Outlaw said to the room.

”We do!” the residents responded.

Staff writers Robert Moran and Vinny Vella contributed to this article.