Philly passes last year’s homicide total

Police with masks
PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

Philadelphia surpassed last year’s homicide total, as eight people were killed in less than 24 hours Monday into early Tuesday.

It was one of the deadliest stretches of recent memory during a year where gun violence has skyrocketed.

“Heartbroken by the rising violence in our city this year,” Mayor Jim Kenney said Tuesday morning on Twitter. “Communities have been traumatized—families torn apart.”

City leaders plan to announce legal action Wednesday against the state in an attempt to allow municipalities in Pennsylvania to enact stricter gun control laws. Currently, local ordinances are preempted by the state legislature.

Kenney has frequently blamed what he views as lax gun regulations for rising rates of violence in the city.

He pointed to his administration’s recent gun violence prevention initiatives, but officials have said those programs have been hampered by the need for social distancing.

“If you couple in the pandemic, the economic crisis and the rise in gun violence, I think it’s all just a toxic stew that we’ve been going through,” Kenney told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

A total 363 people have been killed in Philadelphia, a 40% increase compared to 2019. Year-end numbers haven’t surpassed 360 since 2007, and, at this time last year, the city had recorded more than 100 fewer murders.

A family member discovered two people with gunshot wounds Monday evening inside a house on the 6500 block of N. Lambert Street in West Oak Lane, investigators said.

Police said a 48-year-old woman was found with a gunshot wound to the head in the living room, and a 29-year-old man who had been shot multiple times throughout his body was in the basement.

Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Detectives recovered a weapon, police said, but no arrests have been made.

Just after 1 p.m. Monday, Daejour Smith, 21, was shot nine times in the parking lot of the Lowe’s store on Christopher Columbus Boulevard near Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia, police said. Officers rushed him to Jefferson University Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Smith, of South Philadelphia, worked at the store. Police said the shooting stemmed from an argument but provided no further details.

“We are heartbroken at the tragic and senseless shooting that took place outside our store yesterday,” Lowe’s said in a statement. “Our focus is on providing support to our associate’s family and colleagues at the local store.”

A 17-year-old boy was gunned down Monday evening in the Summerdale section of Northeast Philadelphia.

Police responded to the 800 block of Brill Street at around 6:45 p.m. for a report of a person with a gun and found the boy nearby on the 5600 block of Langdon Street with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

He was transported to Albert Einstein Medical Center and died just after 7 p.m. Authorities identified him as Lamont Brown, of Tacony.

In West Philadelphia, a 33-year-old man was shot in the back of the head at around 12:20 p.m. Tuesday on the 5200 block of Kershaw Street. He died at the scene, authorities said.

Just after 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, a 19-year-old man was shot six times, sustaining wounds to his chest, back and left arm, inside a Chinese restaurant on the 5400 block of Willows Avenue in Kingsessing, police said.

Officers rushed him to the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he later died.

Police responded to the 1300 block of Fanshawe Street in the Castor Gardens neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia just after 5 p.m. Monday and found a man inside a car with multiple gunshot wounds.

Tashon Whitfield, 22, who lived in North Philadelphia, died at the scene, authorities said. There was no word of a motive in the killing.

A 27-year-old man died after he was shot in the head at around 2:15 p.m. Monday on the 1800 block of S. Corlies Street in South Philadelphia, police said. Investigators found a gun at the scene but continue to search for a suspect.

Authorities said no arrests have been made in connection with any of the killings.

In addition, six others were injured in shootings Monday and early Tuesday in Philadelphia.