By Matt Petrillo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia could be on track to surpass its most homicides ever in a calendar year. All year we’ve been watching the homicide rate go up and up. It’s stretching police resources thin as the pain of losing loved ones devastates families from across the city.

Family members fought through tears when remembering 15-year-old Jeremy Perez of Kensington. Loved ones say he was taken from them too soon.

“He was a good kid. He died innocently,” said Martha Rivera, the victim’s aunt.

Philadelphia police say a fight broke out Friday over a parking spot in Kensington and Jeremy’s father shot a gun into a crowd, killing Jeremy and injuring the teen’s cousin.

“I don’t really remember a lot, I just remember being in the hospital,” gunshot victim Giovanny Capulin said.

Loved ones released balloons into the sky Tuesday afternoon in honor of the 15-year-old and his father, Jesus Perez, who officers shot and killed during the chaos.

The balloon release is a tragic reminder of the surging homicide rate in Philadelphia that’s sadly been keeping detectives busy this year.

Philadelphia has seen more than 490 homicides to date, just shy of a new record. According to the Philadelphia Police Department, that record stands at 500 homicides, set back in 1990.

“Crime and violence are really complex problems,” Dr. Caitlin Taylor.

Dr. Taylor is an assistant professor of criminal justice at La Salle University. She and her colleagues initially expected the pandemic to decrease crime because more people are staying home. But some factors have turned that theory on its head.

“Especially in Philadelphia, homicides are really a story of gun violence more than anything else and we saw rates of gun ownership increase this year. We cannot talk about homicide without talking about the unfathomable easy access to firearms among young people,” Dr. Taylor said.

For a list of gun violence resources in Philadelphia, click here.


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