The sickness of gun violence is spreading even faster than COVID.
Once again, gun violence left another community in shock and mourning. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports a mass shooting left at least three people dead and 11 more wounded in Philadelphia late Saturday night. Some of the city’s most popular restaurants, clubs, and bars were packed along South Street when bullets started to fly.
“I didn’t think it was going to stop,” said Joe Smith about the reported dozens of shots fired on South Street.
“It was chaos,” said Eric Walsh, who was taking down a bar’s outdoor seating area when shots rang out around 11:30 p.m. “People were coming off the street with blood splatters on white sneakers and skinned knees and skinned elbows. We literally just were balling up napkins and wetting them and handing them to people.”
Officials have not yet publicly identified the dead except that one was a 22-year-old woman and another was a 25-year-old man. The wounded were rushed to nearby Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. In addition to the lovely weather and Pride celebrations kicking off, events like The Roots Picnic drew extra visitors to Philly for the weekend.
“You can imagine there were hundreds of individuals enjoying South Street, as they do every single weekend, when this shooting broke out,” said Philadelphia Police Inspector D.F. Pace.
There was probably increased police presence because there was another shooting in the same area a few days ago. Several officers were patrolling the hot spot and claimed they saw multiple shooters on the scene. According to Pace, one officer returned fire at a shooter. The gunman dropped his weapon, which had an extended capacity. Police recovered two semi-automatic handguns from the scene.
Police have not confirmed whether they identified any suspects, but they’ve made no arrests. According to early witness statements, this senseless violence likely started with a fistfight that turned into a deadly shooting. This latest tragedy emphasized the urgency for prevention in Pennsylvania, where a law prevents local governments from regulating guns. A challenge to the 1995 law will soon be presented to the State Supreme Court.
“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,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Sunday Morning.
“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,” he continued.
“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.”
In the three weeks since a white supremacist targeted Black grocery store shoppers in Buffalo, there were 35 more mass shootings. Activists say the “time for civil discourse is over” regarding gun control. Whether it’s an elaborate terrorist plot or a random outburst of violence, we’re long overdue to prioritize the right to live safely over the right to own guns.
Our condolences go out to the victims and their families.