Philadelphia surpasses 500 homicides as gun violence crisis continues

Philadelphia Shooting
Philadelphia Police Investigators work the scene of a fatal overnight shooting on South Street in Philadelphia, Sunday, June 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Philadelphia surpasses 500 homicides as gun violence crisis continues

Philadelphia has recorded more than 500 homicides this year as the city’s gun violence crisis continues to rise dramatically.

The city has only ever recorded this large loss of human life twice in its history, matching the record of 500 deaths during the crack cocaine epidemic in 1990.

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Since Tuesday, the total has risen to 502, a 7% reduction from 2021, per the city’s dashboard.

The total in 2022 only pales slightly in comparison to last year’s record-breaking total. In 2021, Philadelphia recorded 562 homicides, with 501 of the deaths due to gun violence alone, per Axios.

Homicide victims in Philadelphia for 2022 spanned across all ages, from as young as 9 to as old as 78. The 500th homicide was a man, 35, shot in the city’s Ogontz section on Sunday afternoon, and he died hours later from his injuries, police confirmed to multiple outlets.

The demographics surrounding the homicides reflect the extent to which gun violence plagues the city. Of the 500 homicides, 30 victims were juveniles, with seven being 14 years old or younger. According to police, 84% of people killed or injured in shootings this year were black.

During a gun violence and public safety update on Tuesday, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said law enforcement officers were working tirelessly to distribute resources to the hardest-hit areas. Starting in January, 100 additional officers will patrol the city’s top four districts plagued the most by gun violence: the 22nd, the 24th, the 25th, and the 39th.

“We continue to be focused on working together, with all law enforcement and public safety agencies, to do so. One life lost to gun violence is too many,” per the city’s online public safety update. “We will continue to work with our criminal justice and community-based partners to address this challenge, save lives, and protect communities in every corner of Philadelphia.”

Outlaw said the level of gun violence seen in the city remains at an “unacceptable” rate, but the 7% reduction in homicides since last year gives her some hope.

Mayor Jim Kenney said while he is hopeful as he looks at the slight decrease in homicides for 2022, even one homicide for him is too many. He attributed the rise in gun violence to Pennsylvania’s gun laws, which he said only invite more opportunities for harm.

“As long as you keep allowing guns to be in people’s hands,” he said via the Philadelphia Inquirer, “they are going to use them in bad circumstances.”

Among the homicides, 42 victims died as a result of domestic violence, slightly higher than the numbers from last year.

Philadelphia Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier released a statement after the city reached its 500th homicide mark, saying that the city had witnessed “three violent deaths every two days in 2022.”

“Each of the 500 individuals lost this year is much more than a statistic — they are a family member, a friend, a neighbor, and their loss reverberates through entire communities,” her statement read.

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She said while she is appreciative of the city’s efforts to combat gun violence, the levels at which the city continues to experience gun violence cannot be ignored.

“I am glad for the considerable investment that the City has made in gun violence prevention, but we cannot treat this as simply another problem,” Gauthier said. “We must treat it as the biggest crisis of our lifetime. For this reason, I have not stopped calling on the Mayor to declare a public health emergency to address gun violence in Philadelphia.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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