Police have found a fifth victim in a shooting in Southwest Philadelphia hours after a heavily armed gunman wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire on Monday evening, police said.
The fifth victim was found in a house near the shooting; there were shell casings that matched the other shootings, according to a police spokesman.
The dead were all men aged between 20 and 59, police said. Two children, aged 2 and 13, were also hospitalized and remained stable, they said.
A male suspect was taken into police custody shortly before 8:40 p.m., authorities said, adding they recovered a semi-automatic rifle, handgun and another handgun in the alley behind the 1600 block of South Frazier Street.
A second person who police believed had « picked up the gun and returned fire in the direction of the shooter » was also in custody, police commissioner Danielle M. Outlaw said at a news conference late Monday evening.
“At this point, we don’t see a connection to any of the victims and in the shooter, so we’re still trying to put the pieces together and figure that out,” Commissioner Outlaw said.
Police officers, who were on foot, arrested the suspect in an alleyway, he said. The suspect was wearing a bulletproof vest containing « multiple magazines » and had an AR-style rifle, pistol and police scanner.
Commissioner Outlaw said he did not know whether the gunman was firing his pistol or rifle, but said he was still « actively firing » when he was taken into custody.
« Thank God our officers responded as quickly as they did, » he said. « I can’t even describe the level of bravery and bravery that was shown. »
About 50 spent shell casings were found at the crime scene, covering an area two by four city blocks, the commissioner said.
According to police, an officer heard gunfire in the Kingsessing neighborhood shortly before 8:30 p.m. and found at least one victim near South 56th Street and Chester Avenue.
For some Philadelphia residents, the shooting was a grim reminder of last year’s 4th of July, when dozens of people watching the city’s fireworks display in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum ran for cover after shots were fired on the Benjamin Franklin. Parkways. Two police officers suffered abrasion injuries in that incident.
In recent years, Philadelphia has been plagued by gun violence, with more deadly shootings than much larger cities. But so far there have been 212 homicides in 2023, a decline by 19 percent from 2022, according to the Comptroller’s Office.
The city government has launched a number of efforts to address the crisis including grants for community groups, violence intervention programs and previous curfews. And has he sued the pro-gun state legislature for preempting his authority to enact tougher local gun laws, such as reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns. But the sheer number of guns in the city made the problem difficult to deal with.
In a statement released Monday evening, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers called on elected officials to take action on gun reform.
« Again and again, the devastation wrought by the scourge of gun violence continues to tear families apart and leave communities shattered, » said Jerry Jordan, president of the federation.
Emma Hilton, 70, who lives on 56th Street where the gunshots were fired, said the shooting was the third she’s experienced in the 11 years she’s lived in the neighborhood.
« I’m getting ready to get out of here, » he said on his porch a few feet from where the police commissioner gave his statement to reporters. « It’s bad around here. »
The shooting was the latest this year of at least 343 incidents nationwide in which four or more people were injured or killed, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The organization has documented more than 600 mass shootings in the United States over the past three years.
Amy Harmon contributed report.