PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More gun violence in the city of Philadelphia. Seven people died from gunfire in a little more than a day over the 4th of July weekend. Philadelphia police sources tell Eyewitness News, from Friday through Sunday, there was 31 shootings total, including seven homicides.
Sources in the Philadelphia Police Department believe decreasing jail populations is the reason behind violent crime over the weekend. They say the department is nearing a breaking point.
Among the gunshot victims, eight are under the age of 21, including a 15, 11, and 6-year-old.
Violence stretched from the far northeast on the 4600 block of Kendrick Street, where a 6-year-old boy was shot in the chest and killed.
According to Philadelphia police, the death of the 6-year-old boy was an accident. Officials say a younger child was handling the gun when it discharged and fatally struck the boy.
It has not been determined if any adults will face endangerment charges at this time.
UPDATE: Police say shooting of a 6 y/o in Holmesburg section of Phila. was an accident. It’s believed a younger child was handling the gun when it discharged, fatally striking the child. It hasn’t been determined if any adults will face endangerment charges. @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/yyHyfReEna
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) July 6, 2020
Philadelphia police were kept busy all day Sunday.
Five shootings involved more than one victim, including in Overbrook, part of a triple shooting where a 15-year-old was later pronounced dead. He was riding his bike when he, and two others were shot.
Police do not believe he was the intended target.
Investigators are gripped with looking at ever-rising statistics.
Some sources claim decreasing incarceration rates coupled with an emboldened criminal network are fueling the crisis.
Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, in a one-on-one interview with CBS3, says her intelligence shows the problem is bigger than the notion fewer people are spending their days behind bars.
“There’s no one factor that we can point to that’s creating this increase that we’re seeing. It’s actually been a steady increase over the past few years,” Outlaw said. “And then now we’re seeing this overlay of the pandemic so we don’t know for sure if it’s the release of prisoners from being in custody.”
Philadelphia is not alone. Other major U.S. cities were also rocked by gun violence this July 4th weekend.
Mayor Jim Kenney says for a new police commissioner during a pandemic, Outlaw hasn’t had the flexibility to roll out much-needed crime-fighting initiatives.
But Philadelphia has reached 900 shootings for the year. That’s a 30% increase over this same time a year ago. Homicides are also up 27% over 2019.
“Hopefully, we can move through the summer, try to get our arms around this crime issue and shooting issue,” Kenney said. “Again, nobody wants to hear me say it — and I get criticism from the right when I say it — there are too many damn guns in this country and people get them too quickly.”
The violence prompted Kenney to tweet, “This weekend is a stark reminder that COVID-19 isn’t our only crisis. Gun violence continues to traumatize our communities and cut lives short. Today we lost an innocent 6-year-old child, a woman in Kensington, and a man in South Philadelphia, and others were critically wounded.”
This weekend is a stark reminder that COVID-19 isn’t our only crisis. Gun violence continues to traumatize our communities and cut lives short. Today we lost an innocent 6-year-old child, a woman in Kensington, and a man in South Philadelphia, and others were critically wounded.
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) July 6, 2020
“COVID is one of the epidemics we’re dealing with, but we’re also continuing to deal with the prevalence of homicides and shootings in our community,” Inspector Jarreau Thomas said. “Prayerfully, we can find out who committed these crimes and we can bring some peace and closure to the members of this community.”
Police tell Eyewitness News there are 18 separate incidents from Sunday, one arrest has been made.
This year is on pace to be the deadliest year in Philadelphia in the last 13 years.
CBS3’s Joe Holden contributed to this report.
For a list of gun violence resources in Philadelphia, click here.