Two children will remember Halloween 2018 in Philadelphia as the night they were shot.
A 14-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother were recovering from gunshot wounds Thursday after they became caught in the crossfire of a Halloween night gun battle on an Olney sidewalk.
The siblings were wounded early Wednesday evening when two masked men began firing, Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. Five or six shots were fired, he added.
On the 5700 block of Hope Street, where the shooting happened about 6:20 p.m., residents and passersby tried to make sense of the shooting of the two children.
"It's messed up, man," said Khair Graham, 35, as he exited his home on the block. He said he was grateful that his daughter had spent Halloween night in South Philadelphia. "Trick or treat is supposed to be a time for fun with the kids and their costumes. Back in the day, there was respect. If there was shooting, it wasn't kids getting killed or shot."
Police on Thursday were checking surveillance cameras in the area for images of the perpetrators, and asking anyone with information about the shootings to call 911.
"I would say, particularly, this incident is an all-time low in my experience," Capt. Malachi Jones of Northwest Detectives told reporters Thursday.
Police said the girl suffered two bullet graze wounds on her left leg and was released from Einstein Medical Center Wednesday night. Her brother, who was shot in the right leg, was transferred to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, where he was recovering Thursday. Their names were not released, but officials said the boy's spirits were lifted by a visit from Philadelphia police officers.
"These are like the last days," said Ray Nunez, 76, who along with Agustin Torres, 87, spent part of Thursday morning knocking on doors on the 5700 block of Hope Street on behalf of Jehovah's Witnesses.
The men had hoped to share their faith with residents, but no one answered their knocks. Instead, they found themselves on a block where light blue chalk circles marked where bullet casings were recovered from the sidewalk, and glass glittered in the gutter from a pickup truck and Jeep whose windows had been shattered by bullets.
Bob Weston, 53, a plumber who was on the block to work on a resident's home, lamented how much things had changed from when he was growing up in the old Liddonfield Homes projects in Holmesburg, where disputes were settled with fists.
"When I was growing up, nobody shot each other," Weston said, standing near the chalk circles. "If you got whupped, you got whupped. You came back to fight another day. But these kids today, they have no respect for nobody. They just don't think."
Sterling Walker, 44, who has lived on the block for 20 years, said shootings in the area are common so he was not shocked by the gunfire. Still, he said, he was troubled that shootings seemed to be more frequent.
"This is crazy. I was wondering, like, really, on Halloween?" said Walker, who runs a youth-mentoring program called Exposure that uses media arts to teach life skills. "It's not a shock that it happened, it's more like, when will something like this happen."