A mother of four was fatally shot and three other people were wounded yesterday after an afternoon gun battle erupted on a street in Southwest Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Police Capt. Michael Costello said "some type of confrontation" had begun the night before and reignited about 4:30 p.m. yesterday on the 5800 block of Pentridge Street near Cobbs Creek Parkway in the city's Kingsessing section.

He said "multiple" guns were produced, and the gunfire began.

The woman, identified by relatives as Jovonne Stelly, 28, was shot in the head. She was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

Police said a 41-year-old man was shot in the chest and also taken there. He was in "extremely critical" condition.

A 17-year-old youth was shot in the arm, and a 19-year-old man was shot in the leg. They were taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Stelly's relatives said the 17-year-old was her nephew.

The shooting occurred in the 12th Police District, the same neighborhood where Mayor Street and Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson less than two weeks ago announced plans to assign 80 additional officers in an effort to curb a surge in violence.

The effort, which started March 14, targets a district that "has been troubled by gun violence," Street said, and is viewed as one of the most dangerous areas in the city.

As of Saturday, 90 homicides were reported this year in Philadelphia.

Investigators were harried yesterday because the shootings happened during a particularly bloody hour in which another man died in a shooting in North Philadelphia and two girls were shot and wounded in South Philadelphia. There were no arrests.

Police said a man in his 30s was shot in the head and back at 5:15 p.m. in the 2500 block of West Seltzer Street. He died en route to Temple University Medical Center.

At 5:37 p.m., in the 1500 block of South Etting Street in South Philadelphia, police said a 9-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl were both shot in the arm as they were getting out of a car. They were taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

At the scene of the gun battle on Pentridge Street, police sealed off the tree-lined street of two-story rowhouses and marked more than a dozen bullet casings in the pavement and several bullet holes in parked cars.

Costello said they were interviewing witnesses and believed several guns were involved in the battle.

Semaj Headen, 11, said dozens of witnesses scattered after the gunfire erupted.

"I just heard the gunshots and my heart began beating hard," said Semaj, who said he saw the younger wounded men flee onto 58th Street near Longstreth Elementary School.

Neighbors and relatives gathered along 58th Street, some sobbing. They said Stelly had not been in trouble and devoted herself to caring for her four children.

"We think she was just running out in the street trying to save her kids," said a woman who identified herself as Stelly's aunt.