PHILADELPHIA (NewsNation) — Gunfire killed three people and wounded at least 11 others in a popular downtown Philadelphia entertainment district late Saturday night, according to local law enforcement.
At approximately 11:31 p.m., police officers patrolling the area on South Street in downtown Philadelphia heard multiple gunshots and witnessed several suspects firing into a large crowd where hundreds of people were out enjoying the night, police Inspector D. F. Pace and other local law enforcement officials said.
According to police, officers responding to the incident found multiple victims. As officers began administering first aid, one officer noticed an unknown male firing a handgun into the large crowd. The officer fired several shots in the direction of the gunman who dropped the handgun, ran and was lost in the area. Police believe the suspect was hit but that is still unclear.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw identified the deceased as bystanders during a news conference Sunday, saying Black males, 34 and 22, and a Black female, 27, were killed. Their names were not made public by authorities.
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital spokesperson Damien Woods said, of the 10 patients who came to the hospital, three were dead, six were in stable condition and one had been discharged.
The victims range from 17 to 69 years old, according to Outlaw. Their conditions range from stable to critical.
Police characterized the shooting as having stemmed from an argument, but would not go as far as say it was between feuding groups.
Police said at least five different guns were used in the shooting and they have recovered two of them.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement in response to the shooting:
“The events that transpired last evening on South Street are beyond devastating. Once again, we see lives senselessly lost and those injured in yet another horrendous, brazen and despicable act of gun violence. My heart is with the family, friends, loved ones of those lost or injured, and with everyone impacted by this terrible tragedy.”Mayor Kenney
Kenney stated that the police department is still investigating this “heinous” crime.
“Our city — and country — have experienced a steep rise in gun violence over the past few years,” Kenney addressed the growing gun violence issue in his statement, “We’ve spent these years grappling with this rising epidemic and doing everything in our power not only to stop it but to try to understand why the violence continues—it’s senseless, needless, and deeply troubling.”
“You can imagine there were hundreds of individuals just enjoying South Street, as they do every single weekend, when this shooting broke out,” Pace said.
South Street is known for its entertainment venues and nightlife with multiple bars, restaurants and businesses. Surveillance video from a local business posted by WTXF-TV showed scores of people milling about on the sidewalks and in the street who then suddenly began to flee en masse as the gunfire began.
Pace said police expect to be able to gather “a lot of video surveillance footage” from the many businesses along the street later in the day to try to identify suspects.
Eric Walsh, closing up the outdoor seating area of a bar along the block, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the scene was “chaos.” He said he saw a young woman collapse to the ground on the corner.
“People were coming off the street with blood splatters on white sneakers and skinned knees and skinned elbows,” Walsh said. “We literally just were balling up napkins and wetting them and handing them to people.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.