Philadelphia reaches 500 homicides for 1st time since 1990

Homicides are up this year from 2020, according to the FBI.

Amid a growing epidemic of gun violence, Philadelphia reached the grim milestone of 500 homicides on Wednesday, tying the record set in 1990 for the sixth-largest city in the country.

A 55-year-old woman was shot three times in the chest in South Philadelphia at about 4:30 p.m. and pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said.

In the wake of the record total, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the department was committed to "bring justice and closure to each victim and their families."

"Each and every homicide carries with it a profound sense of loss," Outlaw said in a statement. "However, for our City to have reached such a tragic milestone -- 500 lives cut short -- it carries a weight that is almost impossible to truly comprehend."

Outlaw told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas earlier this month that there is a gun culture problem in Philadelphia.

"We're on pace to get 6,000 illegal crime guns off the street this year; we've made a record number of arrests for carrying guns illegally," she said. "We're dealing with a culture here, there's a culture of violence that we are trying to break through."

Homicides in Philadelphia have increased 13% year-to-date from 2020, according to current city statistics, though that number is down from about 30% higher through July.

Gun violence is not unique to Philadelphia. In cities all over the country, homicides have been on the rise this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

From January to September, there were 6,502 homicides in the United States, according to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, an organization of police chiefs who represent the largest cities in the country. During the same time period in 2020, there were 5,904, according to the agency.

Cities that had a large increase in homicides include Austin, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; and Houston.

Just south on the Interstate 95 corridor, Washington, D.C., hit its 200th homicide Tuesday, according to Metropolitan Police Department data posted on their website.

It occurred around 10 p.m. during a shooting in southeast D.C.

It is the first time since 2003 the city has reached 200 homicides.

Washington, like other major metropolitan areas around the country, has seen an increase in homicides year-over-year. At the same time last year, there were 176 homicides, according to MPD stats.

MPD's union said the increase in homicides has "many causes," including the D.C. City Council's "continued desire to reduce the size and funding of the police department."

The city council voted to cut $15 million from the police budget in July and rejected an $11 million request from Mayor Muriel Bowser for funding to hire 170 new officers in August, instead splitting the money between officers and violence interrupters.

The union also said 417 police officers have separated from MPD as of June 2021, with 54% of those having left or resigned, while only 38% have retired.

"We ask that elected officials provide MPD with the resources to fulfill that mission and temper rhetoric that encourages hostility and mistrust in police," a union spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.