Mayor Jim Kenney said Wednesday anyone who fired a gun during the mass shooting on South Street should be prosecuted, contradicting District Attorney Larry Krasner’s decision not to charge one of the gunmen.
Authorities have identified three of the suspected shooters involved in the chaos that left three people dead, including two bystanders, and injured 11 others.
Among them is Micah Towns, who, Krasner said Monday, acted in self-defense when he fatally shot 34-year-old George Jackson. Investigators believe Jackson fired the first shot, and Towns was seriously injured.
“I would lock them all up,” Kenney told reporters during a virtual news conference alongside Philadelphia Police Department leaders.
Towns “acted in a way that created a chain of events that caused the death of at least two innocent people and the wounding of a bunch of other innocent people,” he explained later in the briefing.
Kenney, who clarified that his comments were his personal opinion, noted the district attorney is an independent, elected position.
The DA’s Office did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Deputy Police Commissioner Ben Naish said detectives reviewed all evidence with prosecutors, adding that the decision of whether or not to charge Towns “is in that gray area.”
Two suspects have been arrested and charged in connection with the melee.
Rashaan Vereen, 34, who was apprehended by U.S. Marshals on Monday night in South Philadelphia, is facing counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault, conspiracy, weapons violations and other charges, according to court documents.
Prosecutors okayed aggravated assault charges against 18-year-old Quran Garner, of Frankford, earlier this week.
The DA’s Office announced Wednesday afternoon that it issued an arrest warrant for the murder of one of the two bystanders — Alexis Quinn, 27, and Kris Minners, 22. However, prosecutors declined to release additional information about the suspect or victim until the person is in custody.
Authorities released surveillance video and images Tuesday evening of a young man described as a “person of interest” in the case. It’s unclear if he is connected to the warrant.
There may also be an additional shooter, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Wednesday.
Vereen and Jackson were allegedly involved in the initial fight believed to have sparked the gunfire. The pair got into an altercation with Towns and are accused of throwing him against a storefront window before Jackson pulled out a gun.
Following the initial exchange, Garner, who had been with Towns, allegedly fired into a large crowd that included police officers, investigators said. An officer returned fire, striking Garner in the hand.
Jackson and Towns legally owned their handguns and had concealed carry permits, according to prosecutors.
“Neither of those guys should have had guns,” Kenney said. “They both were aggressive. They both were violent.”
In speaking about the violence on South Street, Kenney referenced recent mass shootings in a Buffalo grocery store and a Texas elementary school.
“These latest mass shootings were all under different circumstances, but one common thread runs between them — the ease of access to guns,” he said.
Attorneys for the Mayor’s Office are hoping the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules in their favor on two cases challenging the state’s firearm preemption laws, which prevent local governments from implementing gun-related regulations.
In both instances, the Commonwealth Court ruled against the Kenney administration, but City Solicitor Diana Cortes said her legal team was encouraged by dissenting opinions authored in the cases.
If the state’s highest court throws out the preemption statutes, Philadelphia would likely move forward with gun control measures such as requiring a permit, instead of only a background check, to buy a gun and imposing a limit of one firearm a month for purchasers.
Kenney, who said he used to carry a revolver but doesn’t anymore, has frequently pointed to lax state and federal gun laws for the city’s violence crisis, though advocates and some elected officials have called on him to act with more urgency at the local level.
“We are doing everything that we possibly can including going to court to try to be the masters of our own destiny,” Kenney said Wednesday. “And if someone has an idea of what we should be doing that we’re not doing I’m all ears.”