UPDATE: By order of the Mayor, the area between Front and 6th Streets from Bainbridge to Lombard is will be closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic between 8 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday due to patterns of recent violence and for ongoing safety concerns.
Philadelphia Police are searching for answers and asking for witnesses to step forward after a mass shooting on South Street that left three dead and 11 others hit by gunfire on Saturday night.
According to police, the shooting started at about 11:31 p.m. on the 400 block of South Street. Two police officers who were patrolling the 200 block of South Street responded and found several civilians suffering from gunshot wounds, laying on the sidewalk and in the street.
According to Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, one of the police officers saw a man firing a gun into a crowd of people. She said the officer then fired several shots at the suspect and believes the suspect was struck. The suspect dropped his weapon and ran south on the 600 block of S. American Street.
Outlaw said it is believed that one of the homicide victims was in an altercation with another man and exchanged fire. She said the other two slain civilians were believed to be innocent bystanders. Police said there could be as many as five different shooters who took part in the altercation.
Police identified the homicide victims as a 34-year-old male, a 27-year-old female and a 22-year-old male. Surviving shooting victims ranged in age 17-69, and their conditions ranged from stable to critical, according to Outlaw.
“We’re absolutely devastated by this incident and we mourn the lives lost and the dozens and dozens of lives affected by this tragedy, not just here in this city, but obviously this is getting national attention,” Outlaw said.
Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement on Sunday morning.
“The events that transpired last evening on South Street are beyond devastating,” Kenney said. “Once again, we see lives senselessly lost and those injured in yet another horrendous, brazen and despicable act of gun violence. My heart is with the family, friends, loved ones of those lost or injured, and with everyone impacted by this terrible tragedy.
“The Police Department is investigating this heinous crime to ensure the people who are responsible are brought to justice. I urge anyone with information about this incident, or any other crimes, to report it to 215-686-TIPS. Tips can be submitted anonymously. This is a complex, ongoing investigation and we will release more information about this incident as information becomes available.
“Our city — and country — have experienced a steep rise in gun violence over the past few years. We’ve spent these years grappling with this rising epidemic and doing everything in our power not only to stop it but to try to understand why the violence continues — it’s senseless, needless and deeply troubling.
“I know this shooting has shaken many people in our community. The safety of our residents and visitors is our top priority. We cannot accept continued violence as a way of life in our country. Until we address the availability and ease of access to firearms, we will always be fighting an uphill battle. As Mayor, I will continue to fight to protect our communities and urge others to advocate for stronger laws that keep guns out of the hands of violent individuals.
“The surge in gun violence that we’ve seen across the nation — and here in Philadelphia — makes me not just heartbroken, but angry. Our administration, in partnership with all of our local and federal law enforcement agencies, continues to work relentlessly to reduce violence and create safer communities.”
The triple homicide brought the city’s total to 211 this year, which is just under the pace of a record-breaking 562 homicides that occurred in 2021.
“It’s unacceptable,”Outlaw said. “We are still using every resource available to get to the bottom of what occurred not just out there (Saturday) but behind this gun violence in this city, period.”
Outlaw said multiple agencies are working on the case but help from the public is important to the investigation.
“There were hundreds of individuals out there (Saturday night),” Outlaw said. “And I’m asking the public that if any of these people, anyone who was out there, saw anything, witness anything either immediately before or during or after, to please call or text our tip line at 215-686-TIPS.”
Witnesses can also contact the homicide department at 215-686-3334. There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.