Philadelphia police evade gunfire to rescue victims as bullets fly at large block party

Five people were injured, including three teenagers.

August 16, 2020, 10:40 AM

Philadelphia police officers evaded bullets while attempting to reach injured victims when multiple people wielding guns opened fire at a Saturday night block party that drew up to 300 revelers, authorities said.

At least five people, including three teenagers, were wounded in the shooting that erupted near a playground in the Poplar neighborhood of North Philadelphia around 11:30 p.m., Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at a news conference early Sunday morning.

Outlaw said police officers were nearby on patrol and rushed to the chaotic scene when they heard shots and saw what appeared to be gun-muzzle flashes from multiple weapons.

No officers were injured in the incident, but police officials said officers initially came under fire as they tried to reach those wounded. The first officers to arrive at the scene immediately called for backup, officials said.

“It’s disturbing, it’s disheartening,” Outlaw told reporters.

PHOTO: A police car drives in Philadelphia, March 24, 2020.
A police car drives in Philadelphia, March 24, 2020.
Matt Rourke/AP, FILE

The victims ranged in age from 16 to 26, police said. All were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, including three who were taken to a hospital, police said.

Police found numerous gun shell casings littering the scene, officials said.

Outlaw said no arrests were made and asked for the public's help in identifying the shooters.

"There were a lot of people out here," Outlaw said. "We do believe that someone knows who the shooters were and could possibly help us in identifying and figuring out exactly what happened."

The block-party shooting came a week after 25 people were shot last weekend in Philadelphia, including two 11-year-olds at a playground near the Philadelphia Zoo.

Saturday night's shooting broke out hours after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted that more than 10 people had been shot in Philadelphia, including four who died, in a 24-hour stretch that began on Friday. Just last week, the Philadelphia City Council held a two-day virtual emergency hearing on the uptick in shootings.

The carnage mirrors a surge in gun violence in recent months in major cities across the nation, including Chicago, New York City, Atlanta and Cleveland.

Prior to this weekend, more than 1,130 people had been shot in Philadelphia this year -- a 36% jump over the same time period in 2019, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. More than 260 people have died from gun homicides in the city this year, an increase of 31% over the same time span last year, the newspaper reported.

"Gun violence affects all of us," Kenney wrote. "We’re prioritizing a new strategy to combat this epidemic in our city."

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