PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania state Sen. Anthony Williams is asking Gov. Tom Wolf to declare a state of emergency in Philadelphia after another violent weekend in the city saw 32 people become victims of gun violence. There were 23 shootings in 13 of the city’s police districts, some having more than one victim.
Police say there were six homicides over the weekend – one did not involve gun violence.
“I think we’re well past the point when those of us who are elected to lead are always reacted,” Williams said. “We must restore some level of public confidence by addressing this epidemic proactively.”
One of those shootings targeted a high school graduation party in Southwest Philadelphia at Paschall Playground/James Finnegan Park on the 6900 block of Reed Bird Place. A 24-year-old man was shot dead and several teenagers are hurt after the shooting in Southwest Philadelphia on Sunday night.
Police believe there could be three gunmen involved on the loose.
A high school graduation party turned into a bloody mess around 10 p.m. on Sunday when authorities say gunfire erupted at the park by South 70th Street and Reed Bird Place amid a crowd of about 60 people.
“We were all having a good time, then out of nowhere shots were fired,” Varfee Kanneh said. “Out of nowhere. I thought it was just fireworks until I see everyone running and I come back and I see my friend on the floor.”
Kanneh says his friend, Isiaka Meite, was shot in the back and fell to the ground, where he bled to death.
“We tried to save him,” Kanneh said, “but he looked like he was paralyzed. We just kept on trying to keep him conscience until the cops came.”
But Meite didn’t make it. Now his heartbroken family seeks answers.
“Why did it have to be my brother?” Naminata Meita said. “He was innocent. But we are a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. God has his reasons, but I guess that’s the one question I would like to ask though, you know, the shooter.”
Philadelphia Police say four teenagers were also hurt in the graduation party shooting as well as a 21-year-old man. They are all expected to make a full recovery.
Officers are investigating if the gunfire that erupted is linked to another deadly shooting that happened on nearby Dorel Street a week before.
“We working with Patrol Bureau as well as Criminal Intelligence Bureau to follow up on several leads that we have,” Philadelphia Police Captain Jason Smith said.
Smith says the motive for the Southwest Philadelphia graduation shooting is unclear at this point.
On Monday, a prayerful gathering and a purposeful walk feet from the mass shooting at Paschall Playground/James Finnegan Park, councilmembers, police and neighbors gathered with their sole purpose to change the culture of violence plaguing Philadelphia.
“We’re tired of keep hearing that people dying, our friends dying,” 15-year-old Rayiana Williams said.
“You can’t have one foot in and one foot out,” Akalyla Brown, a neighbor, said. “So if you’re going to change the lifestyle, you have to really devote to doing that and make a change in your life. Because the streets don’t care about you.”
Many who showed up to the vigil know the pain Meite’s family is now experiencing.
Dellsean Williams lost his younger brother to gun violence last last year.
“It’s really upsetting because me and him were real close together and we did a lot of things together,” Williams said.
Homicides are up 10% since 2018. Police hope everyone throughout Philadelphia realizes that enough is enough.
“We have to have a strong reaction to this,” Philadelphia Police Capt. Scott Drissel said. “Six people’s lives are changed forever and four of them are juvenile. They’re kids.”
In response to Williams’ asking for a state of emergency request, Mayor Jim Kenney says through a city spokesperson that he supports “any and all efforts to combat gun violence in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, for decades, the general assembly has failed to pass meaningful gun reform legislation and seen fit to strip local jurisdictions from passing their own gun laws.”
CBS3’s Matt Petrillo and Greg Argos contributed to this report.