Fourth of July shooting leaves city, Kenney reeling

Fourth of July shooting
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Philadelphia’s Fourth of July celebration descended into chaos Monday night after two law enforcement officers were struck by gunfire.

The fallout continued Tuesday, as several local leaders called on Mayor Jim Kenney to resign after he told reporters in the aftermath of the shooting that he was looking forward to no longer being mayor.

Just after 9:45 p.m. Monday, as the fireworks were set to begin, 36-year-old Philadelphia Highway Patrol Officer Sergio Diggs and 44-year-old Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy John Foster were shot, authorities said.

The pair were standing at the base of the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, according to police. Both sustained graze wounds and were released from Jefferson University Hospital within hours of the incident.

Hughe Dillon

Officers did not hear shots, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said early Tuesday, and the source of the gunfire remains unclear. No arrests had been made at the time Metro went to print.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 215-686-8477 or go to www.phillypolice.com/forms/submit-a-tip. Photos and videos can be submitted to police through email at [email protected]

Diggs sustained a wound to the head, and a photograph distributed by the city’s police union shows a bullet wedged in his cap, near a pinned Mass card for the Rev. Stephen Wetzel, a Catholic police chaplain who died in April.

“We were inches away from planning a funeral for at least one brave Philadelphia Highway Patrol officer,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby said in a statement.

The FOP on Tuesday offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the shooting.

Video from the scene shows crowds of people sprinting down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, away from the Eakins Oval Ferris wheel and the Wawa Welcome America fireworks, which continued on.

Those looking for possessions left on the Parkway can contact [email protected]

The shooting occurred the same day a gunman killed six people at a Fourth of July parade near Chicago, and about a month after a shootout left three people dead and eleven wounded on South Street.

“Until Americans decide that they want to give up the guns and give up the opportunity to get guns, we’re going to have this problem,” Kenney said at a news conference just after midnight outside Jefferson University Hospital.

“I don’t enjoy the Fourth of July. I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t enjoy the NFL Draft,” he added. “I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not mayor and I can enjoy some stuff.”

“You’re looking forward to not being mayor?” a reporter asked Kenney, and he replied, “Yeah, as a matter of fact.”

Kenney’s comments, particularly his apparent antipathy for the job, drew the ire of activists, residents and City Councilmembers, with some suggesting he should step down.

“I think we are at a point of a crisis in the city, and his remarks kind of indicate that he’s given up on Philadelphia,” Councilmember Allan Domb told Metro. “He’s our coach. It’s like he’s throwing in the towel.”

“I just want the man to be happy again,” Councilmember Derek Green said in a phone interview.

Green and Domb, both of whom publicly advocated for Kenney’s resignation, are separately considering running for mayor next year.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Kenney attempted to walk back his remarks, referring to them as a “late-night, overwhelming moment of frustration.”

“I care deeply about the safety of our residents and the future of our city, and that’s why I’m disappointed with how I conveyed my sentiments last night,” the statement read. “I made Philadelphians feel like I don’t care, and that cannot be further from the truth.”

If Kenney did resign, Council President Darrell Clarke would take over as mayor until November, when a special election would be held to determine who would serve the final year of Kenney’s term.

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