Lawmakers raise alarm after wave of Philly shootings |

Lawmakers raise alarm after wave of Philly shootings

Associated Press
A person looks for items left behind after a shooting at a graduation party in Philadelphia, Monday, June 17, 2019. Authorities say at least one man has been killed and multiple other people were wounded in the shooting which occurred around 10 p.m. Sunday.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross speaks with members of the media during a news conference in Philadelphia, Monday, June 17, 2019. Authorities in Philadelphia say a man has been killed and at least five other people were wounded in a shooting Sunday night at a graduation party.
A sign sets on the ground in aftermath of a shooting at a graduation party in Philadelphia, Monday, June 17, 2019. Authorities say a man has been killed and five other people were wounded in the shooting which occurred around 10 p.m. Sunday.

PHILADELPHIA — Lawmakers from Philadelphia called for increased action from state and city officials Monday to stem a rising tide of gun violence that included a fatal shooting when someone sprayed gunfire into a high school graduation party at a public park.

The bloody weekend comes as Philadelphia’s homicide count is surging toward its highest level in more than a decade.

Among the measures being sought by Philadelphia members of Pennsylvania’s Legislature is a bigger police presence on the street, collaboration among top state and city offices and an emergency response by Mayor Jim Kenney.

They also said legislation is necessary to reduce the availability of firearms, although gun-control efforts hit stiff resistance in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia, called the shootings a “major crisis” in Philadelphia and Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Philadelphia, called it a “public health crisis.”

“We cannot go into this summer with our families afraid to take their kids to the park or host celebratory gatherings where they have to fear they may be subject to a shooting,” Dawkins told a news conference in the state Capitol.

It’s not yet known what sparked the Sunday night graduation party shooting at Finnegan Playground that authorities say left a 24-year-old man dead and five people wounded. Isiaka Meite was shot in the back and died at a hospital, authorities said.

Listed in stable condition were four teenagers, all shot in the legs or ankles, and a 21-year-old man shot in his elbow.

The shooter remained at large Monday.

Many people at the celebration were immigrants from West African countries, attendees told The Philadelphia Inquirer, and they were honoring recent graduates of various area high schools.

The homicide count in Philadelphia before Monday stood at 152, 13% higher than at the same point last year. Philadelphia recorded 349 homicides in 2018, the highest number since 2007’s 392.

Philadelphia’s police commissioner, Richard Ross, said Monday that the weekend produced 23 shootings with 32 victims, including a suicide.

It took a “lack of regard for life” to fire into a crowd of at least 70 people at the graduation party, Ross said.

“How heartless must you be to pull the trigger that many times, and hit that many people, knowing that would be the likely outcome?” he said.

Ross said the department will shift where it is deploying police officers and will increase overtime hours, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Also alarming are firearms arrests, Ross said. So far in 2019, police have made 820 arrests for firearm violations, almost double the 464 arrests at the same point in 2015, he said.

The numbers suggest a lack of fear of the consequences to carrying a gun in Philadelphia, Ross said.

In a statement, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said he strongly shares lawmakers’ concerns, and called the violence in Philadelphia over the weekend “disturbing and horrifying.”

Wolf agrees that more can be done, his office said, and plans to take it up with city and state officials.

Categories: News | Pennsylvania | Top Stories
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.