Boy’s death sparks outrage as investigation continues

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PHOTO: Melissa Mitman

Authorities on Tuesday identified two men wanted in connection with a West Philadelphia shootout that led to the death of 7-year-old Zamar Jones.

Zamar’s killing—he was shot in the head while playing on his porch—has horrified the city and prompted a councilman to call for emergency hearings on gun violence.

Police believe Damar Bashier Jones, 27, and Michael Banks, 30, shot back after Christopher Linder allegedly opened fire on a group of people while driving a truck Saturday night on the 200 block of N. Simpson Street.

Damar B. Jones (left) and Michael Banks (right)

Linder, who was arrested after returning to the scene for his truck, was charged with first-degree murder following Zamar’s death, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office said. He was originally facing two counts of attempted murder.

Jones’ last known address is on the 2000 block of S. Salford Street in Southwest Philadelphia, and Banks has lived on N. 10th Street in Darby and the 2100 block of S. Dagget Street in Southwest Philadelphia, investigators said.

Police did not say whether Jones is related to Zamar.

Both men are considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334/3335 or dial 911.

City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, chairman of the committee on gun violence prevention, said Zamar’s death left him “sick to his stomach.” He plans to bring in leaders from the police department, District Attorney’s Office and Kenney administration for unscheduled hearings next week.

“I’m very disappointed in the direction we are moving as a city around gun violence,” Johnson said in a statement. “The public deserves to hear the causes of the rapid rise in shootings and homicides and, more importantly, the city’s plan moving forward to reduce the numbers.”

Nearly 1,100 people have been shot in Philadelphia in 2020, a 36 percent increase over this time last year, and homicides are up 34 percent, according to police statistics.

More people have been killed so far this year than in the entirety of 2013 or 2014, when the homicide rate was comparatively low.

A man was killed and three others were injured in separate shootings Monday and Tuesday.

In Fairhill, a 34-year-old was shot in the thigh just before 1 p.m. Monday on the 2900 block of Mascher Street, police said.

Then, 56-year-old Timothy Whitehead died after being shot in the chest and armpit at around 2 p.m. on the 2100 block of Ridge Avenue in North Philadelphia. Authorities did not provide a motive, and there have been no arrests.

Later, just before 11 p.m., officers were called to the 5600 block of N. American Street in Olney for a report of a robbery, and they found a 26-year-old man with a gunshot wound to his upper right arm.

On Tuesday, a 27-year-old man was shot once in the abdomen at 2 p.m. on the 1800 block of E. Allegheny Avenue in Kensington, investigators said. He was transported to the hospital in stable condition.

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