Renewed Calls to Stop Gun Violence as Weekend Shootings Claim Toddlers as Victims

Three of the victims were 4 years old or younger.

ByABC News
April 18, 2016, 7:03 PM

— -- It was a deadly weekend, with gun violence rocking three major cities: Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Among the victims, three stood out because they were so young -- 4 years old or under -- with two killed and one injured.

In Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, 4-year-old Tahirah Phillips was fatally shot in the head on Saturday afternoon. Philadelphia Police said her father, Maurice Phillips, turned himself in.

Six-month-old Miracle Murray was fatally shot in the face on Saturday afternoon when three men allegedly opened fire on a house, on Detroit's west side. Detroit Police confirmed two men have been arrested in connection with the crime, and a third suspect remains at large.

In Chicago, an unidentified 1-year-old was shot in the neck as she sat in the backseat of her mother's car, police said. They were reportedly driving on Friday afternoon when they came under gunfire. Chicago Police told ABC News she was released from the hospital on Sunday and is expected to be okay.

"You have guys who are getting into it about any and everything," Tio Hardiman, the controversial former executive director of Chicago-based anti-violence organization Ceasefire Illinois, told ABC News, "and some young guys are trying to build a body count so that they can show everybody in their neighborhood that they are the toughest guy over there."

"Some guys are shooting just to shoot," added Hardiman, who currently heads Violence Interrupters. "They don't really need an excuse."

The crime figures are especially grim in Chicago, where the police department notes that there were 133 reported homicides from January to March this year, compared to 77 last year and 59 in 2014, from January to March of those years.

That daunting reality now greets new Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, a 28-year veteran with the CPD, handpicked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Johnson has "everything the city needs," Emanuel said during a news conference last month when he introduced Johnson.

"My expectation is to reduce gun violence here and now,” Johnson said.