WASHINGTON: Three people were killed and 11 others wounded on Saturday after multiple shooters opened fire into a crowd in the US city of Philadelphia, according to police. The shooting took place on a busy street known for its nightlife.
Police Inspector D F Pace told reporters that two men and a woman had been killed, adding that officers responding to the incident “observed several active shooters shooting into the crowd.”
“You can imagine there were hundreds of individuals enjoying South Street, as they do every single weekend, when this shooting broke out’’, Pace said.
He said that “numerous” officers were already on the scene when the first shots were heard, describing it as a “standard deployment” for the area on summer weekend nights.
A responding officer fired at one of the shooters, who dropped his gun and fled, though it was unclear whether the man was hit, Pace said. Local media reported that no arrests had been made. Pace said two semi-automatic handguns, one with an extended magazine, were recovered at the scene.
He added that police would have to wait until morning to review surveillance footage from nearby businesses that were closed on Saturday night.
Pace described the investigation as “fluid’’, saying there were still “a lot of unanswered questions.” The US has been rocked by a series of high-profile shootings in recent weeks, including at a school in Texas, a church in California, a grocery store in New York and a hospital in Oklahoma. The incidents have collectively left dozens dead.
Bystander Joe Smith, 23, told ‘The Philadelphia Inquirer’ that his mind had flashed to the recent incidents when he heard the first shots ring out on Saturday. “Once it started I didn’t think it was going to stop’’, he told the outlet. “There was guttural screaming’’, he added. “I just heard screams.”
Another witness, Eric Walsh, described to the Inquirer scenes of people fleeing the shooting “coming off the street with blood splatters on white sneakers and skinned knees and skinned elbows.”
The ‘Inquirer’ reported that another person was fatally shot just blocks from the scene about two hours later, but police said that the two incidents were not believed to be linked.
During warmer months, gun violence tends to spike in the United States, where there were an estimated 393 million guns in circulation in 2020, more than the number of people.
US President Joe Biden last week forcefully called for new gun control legislation in response to the recent violence, lamenting the “everyday places that have become killing fields, battlefields here in America.”
A bipartisan group of Senators met on Thursday to discuss a package of firearms controls, but Republicans have historically resisted tougher gun laws.