Police released surveillance video Wednesday showing the five gunmen who ambushed a group of teenagers leaving a junior varsity football scrimmage Tuesday afternoon at Roxborough High School.
Nicholas Elizalde, 14, was killed in the shooting, and investigators do not believe he was the intended target of the attack, said Philadelphia Police Homicide Capt. Jason Smith.
Detectives are looking into the possibility that an altercation in the high school’s cafeteria earlier in the day led to the barrage of bullets. Authorities recovered more than 60 spent shell casings from the scene.
Five students, including Nicholas, were struck by the gunfire, which occurred at around 4:40 p.m. Tuesday on the 4700 block of Pechin Street as the Roxborough football players were walking from the field to the locker room.
The shooters were waiting inside a light-colored Ford Explorer SUV for several minutes, and other groups of students passed by before they jumped out and opened fire, according to authorities.
After an initial round of shots, four of the five suspects got back in the SUV, but one of the shooters chased down a 17-year-old boy. He stood over the teenager and continued firing, stopping only when he ran out of ammo, Smith said.
The 17-year-old boy is not on the football team but is a friend of one of the players, Smith told reporters. Investigators believe he was targeted by the gunmen. He was shot in the arm and leg and is expected to recover.
Authorities said the other three boys, ages 14 and 15, were recovering from nonlife-threatening injuries following the shooting.
“Most, if not all the offenders appear to be juveniles themselves,” Smith said Wednesday.
Officials are offering a $40,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Anyone with knowledge of the shooting is asked to contact the PPD’s Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334/3335; call or text 214-686-8477; or submit a tip at www.phillypolice.com/forms/submit-a-tip.
Nicholas lived in Havertown and attended W.B. Saul High School, which shares athletic teams with Roxborough for some sports. Students from Northeast High School and Boys’ Latin Charter School also participated in the scrimmage.
Smith said detectives do not think the shooting had anything to do with football or the practice game.
Nonetheless, Deputy Police Commissioner Joel Dales said the PPD will monitor scrimmages and football games and increase the presence of officers at Roxborough, Saul, Northeast and Boys’ Latin at dismissal times.
“The last 24 hours have been devastating to the school district and our school communities,” said School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Tony Waltington Sr., who is in his fourth month on the job.
“It is absolutely unimaginable that a group of students participating in a wholesome activity would be fired upon as they walk near a school,” he added.
Police, school officers, staff and city officials were posted outside Roxborough High School at dismissal Wednesday, and a school district spokesperson told reporters not to photograph or interview students, some of whom wondered aloud why television crews remained at their school.
On Pechin Street, white chalk evidence marks were visible on the road.
An emergency response team, as well as social workers and counselors, were available at Roxborough, Saul and the other schools affected, district officials said.
This year, 32 people under the age of 18 have been killed in Philadelphia, two fewer than at this point in 2021, according to PPD data. However, 179 minors have been shot, an increase of 12 compared to last year.
Several hours before the shooting, Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order banning guns from city-owned recreation centers, athletic fields, playgrounds and pools.