Philadelphia Mayor to Congress: ‘Do Something About America’s Gun Problem’

Police investigate the scene of a shooting Monday, July 3, 2023 in Philadelphia. Police say a gunman in a bulletproof vest has opened fire on the streets of Philadelphia, killing several people and wounding two boys before he surrendered to responding officers. (Steven M. Falk/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

By Associated Press

July 4, 2023

Five people were killed and two boys were also wounded in the Monday night shooting spree in southwest Philadelphia that made the city the site of the nation’s worst violence around the July 4 holiday.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney begged Congress to “do something about America’s gun problem” after a 40-year-old man with a rifle, a pistol, a bulletproof vest, extra magazines, and a police scanner fatally shot four men on the streets of the Kingsessing neighborhood in southwest Philadelphia and chased and killed a fifth man inside a home, according to police.

Two boys, ages 2 and 13, were also wounded in the Monday night shooting spree that made the city the site of the nation’s worst violence around the July 4 holiday.

“I am frustrated and outraged that mass shootings like this continue to happen in communities across the United States,” said the Mayor in a press conference on Tuesday, “this country needs to re-examine its conscience and find out how to get guns out of dangerous people’s hands.”

Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, condemned yesterday’s event and praised the officers who responded to the scene and apprehended the suspect even as the gunman fired back at them.

The Commissioner added that an investigation is underway and called for patience as evidence is gathered.

A second person was also taken into custody and may have returned fire at the suspect. Police did not know whether there was a connection between the two, according to Outlaw.

She said that officers found dozens of shell casings strewn across eight blocks.

“You can see there are several scenes out here,” Outlaw said. “We’re canvassing the area to get as much as we can, to identify witnesses, to identify where cameras are located and to do everything to figure out the why,” Outlaw said.

About four hours after the Philadelphia shooting, gunfire rang out at a neighborhood festival in Fort Worth, Texas, leaving three people dead and eight hurt.

Philadelphia police on Tuesday afternoon identified the victims there as 20-year-old Lashyd Merritt, 29-year-old Dymir Stanton, 59-year-old Ralph Moralis and 15-year-old Daujan Brown, all pronounced dead shortly after the Monday night gunfire; and 31-year-old Joseph Wamah, Jr., who was found in a home early Tuesday, also with multiple bullet wounds.

A 2-year-old boy shot four times in the legs and a 13-year-old shot twice in the legs were in stable condition, as were a 2-year-old boy and a 33-year-old woman injured by shattered glass.

Tim Eads said that Monday night he heard fireworks, then gunshots, and saw police cars “flying by.” His wife was on the second floor “looking out the bay window and saw the shooter actually coming down this street here behind me.” Eads saw the other man with a pistol who, Eads said, may have been firing at the shooter.

“He was using my car as a shield shooting out into the street,” Eads said.

A resident named Roger who declined to give his last name said he and his family were eating in the living room at about 8:30 p.m. when they heard eight to 10 gunshots.

“Everybody thought it was fireworks but … been around here about three years so I heard it enough,” he said. “I looked out the window and seen a bunch of people running.”

He said he heard about four more shots and “thought it was the end of it.” Ten minutes later, he said, police came “flying down here,” and about five minutes later he heard rapid gunfire open up right outside the house.

The Philadelphia violence was the country’s 29th mass killing in 2023, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University, the highest on record by this time in the year.

The number of people killed in such events is also the highest by this time in the year.

There have been more than 550 mass killings since 2006, according to the database, in which at least 2,900 people have died and at least 2,000 people have been hurt.

Keystone senior community manager Patrick Berkery contributed to this report.

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