Mass Shootings in Philadelphia and Chattanooga Leave At Least 6 Dead
A brawl between at least two men turned a packed Philadelphia street into a scene of terror Saturday night after they pulled out guns and began firing wildly at each other. By the time the gunfire ended, three people were dead and 12 more were hurt.
Just a few hours later, in Chattanooga, Tenn., a mass shooting outside a bar sent people fleeing in panic. Three people were killed there, too, including one who was struck by a vehicle, and 14 were hurt, most of them with gunshot wounds.
And at parties in Phoenix, Chester, Va., and Summerton, S.C., celebrations turned tragic in mass shootings that resulted in a total of at least three deaths and 22 people who were injured, many of them children.
Although shootings across the country traditionally begin to rise with the approach of summer, the scenes of carnage over the weekend in the wake of massacres in Buffalo, Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla., left cities shaken though, tellingly, not shocked.
“People are afraid to let their kids out of the house,” Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia said in an interview. But he added that there was little he could say to reassure frightened or grieving residents.
“Words are hard,” Mr. Kenney said. “Words these days have become somewhat meaningless.”
As of Sunday evening, the police in his city had announced no arrests. Earlier in the day, spent shell casings still littered South Street as investigators searched for more clues. Dots on the ground of what looked like blood, along with blue tape on storefronts that marked bullet holes, made the area, one of the most popular nightlife spots in Philadelphia, resemble a war zone.
The previous night, hundreds of people were out at the bars, restaurants and music venues of the district. Joe Pepe was with his girlfriend and friends eating outside at Paddy Whacks, an Irish bar on South Street a few blocks from where the shootings occurred. The energy was wild around sunset, he said, with what seemed like hundreds of teenagers on the busy street, clustered in groups and dancing on top of cars.
“The kids were running up the roofs of the parked cars, and all of us out trying to enjoy the night were getting uncomfortable,” said Mr. Pepe, 33.
Meghan Ford, who was working at a bar down the block from the shooting, said that from the beginning of the evening shift, “something was in the air,” with the swarms of teenagers and the commotion.
Later, fights began to break out. And at about 11:30 p.m., videos from the scene captured what happened next: a barrage of gunshots, screams and people fleeing.
Officers on patrol a short distance away ran to the gunfire, and one began shooting at one of the gunmen, according to the police, possibly hitting him. But he dropped his handgun and managed to run down a side street and disappear.
Jin Chen, who was working Saturday night as a cashier at Ishkabibble’s, a cheesesteak restaurant on South Street, said that he heard several shots ring out.
“I heard like five or more shots, and then people started running,” Mr. Chen, 19, said by phone Sunday. Of the crowd, he added, “They were screaming.”
When the firing stopped, it was a scene of devastation. Officers at the scene saw “several civilians suffering from gunshot wounds lying on the street,” Danielle M. Outlaw, the Philadelphia police commissioner, said at a news conference Sunday.
Three of the 14 people shot were killed: Kristopher Minners, 22, Alexis Quinn, 27, and Gregory Jackson, 34, who also went by the nickname Japan. The police said a fight between one of the victims and another male might have been the “genesis” of the shooting.
The 11 others who were shot were between 17 and 69 years old, Commissioner Outlaw said, adding that their conditions ranged from stable to critical.
One other person was injured by shattering glass, according to the police. Two guns had been recovered from the scene so far, they said.
Mr. Kenney, who was in Reno, Nev., over the weekend for a meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, said that he had been told there had been as many as five gunmen and that a ghost gun — an untraceable firearm often assembled from a kit — was among those that had been used.
The shooting was the 10th in Philadelphia over the course of Friday and Saturday, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks shooting deaths. The other nine shootings each had a single victim; one resulted in death. Another shooting on South Street, on Tuesday, injured one.
On Sunday, many in Philadelphia were just beginning to process the shooting, including Devon Howell. As a teenager, Mr. Howell, now 20, took boxing classes with one of the victims, Mr. Jackson, whom he called Coach G.
He was a disciplined coach, a dedicated father, and man who “just took care of everyone around him,” Mr. Howell said, recalling how Mr. Jackson would roller skate inside the boxing gym and regularly bring his young daughter to work.
“To be honest, he was one of the coolest people you could meet in your entire life,” Mr. Howell said. “He never had any problems with anyone.”
Another victim, Mr. Minners, was a second- and sixth-grade resident adviser at Girard College, a boarding school in Philadelphia.
“He had such a good heart. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for anybody,” said Richard Perdomo, a colleague who had known Mr. Minners since he was about 6 years old and himself was a student at the school. He described Mr. Minners as loved by the children in his care.
“This is going to crush them,” he said, adding that Mr. Minners had celebrated his birthday just days ago. “This truly, truly hurts.”
“What a waste,” he added. “He had his whole life in front of him.”
The devastation in Philadelphia was far from an isolated case this weekend. In Chattanooga, where 14 people were shot during a fight at a neighborhood bar, two victims died from gunshot wounds and another person died after being struck by a car while fleeing, the police chief, Celeste Murphy, said at a news conference.
Two other people fleeing the shooting were also struck by vehicles, she said. The conditions of the victims were not immediately available, but the chief said some were critical.
The police were seeking multiple assailants, but a motive for the shooting, which was reported around 2:42 a.m., was not immediately clear.
On Sunday afternoon, McCallie Avenue, where some of the victims were struck by cars, was covered in dark skid marks, and the cordoned-off parking lot of the bar, Mary’s Bar and Grill, was full of broken bottles of Hennessy and Bud Light, along with a broken rhinestone necklace. Bright yellow, orange and blue flowers were placed on the corner in memorial of the lives lost.
A former bartender at Mary’s, who declined to give her name and lives nearby, called the bar a community staple. She said she returned home just after the shooting had ended and saw one victim — a young woman who was a friend of a friend — on the street, covered with a tarp. The body was not removed until after 9:30 a.m., she said.
Saterda Smith, who lost her 20-year-old son in a shooting just around the corner from Mary’s in 2015, was part of a small gathering of mothers from the anti-violence group Moms Demand Action that held a protest down the block.
“These people have children! And now their children have to ask, ‘Where’s my mama?’” Ms. Smith said. “Enough is enough.”
The Gun Violence Archive has counted more than 240 mass shootings so far this year, defined as one in which four or more people were killed or injured. Shootings in the United States rose sharply during the pandemic.
This weekend’s spate of violence also included mass shootings that occurred at parties in Virginia, Arizona and South Carolina.
At a party late Friday in Chester, Va., about 20 miles south of Richmond, 20-year-old Taborri J. Carter of Petersburg was killed and seven others were injured amid a flurry of more than 50 gunshots from at least four weapons, the local authorities said.
The injured included five men and boys ages 16 to 21 who were shot, and two girls, ages 16 and 17, who were hit by vehicles as they fled the shooting.
Early Saturday in Phoenix, gunfire erupted at a party in a strip-mall parking lot, killing a 14-year-old girl and injuring eight people, who all sustained gunshot wounds, the police said.
And in Summerton, S.C., one person was killed and seven others were wounded at a graduation party on Saturday night, the sheriff’s office in Clarendon County, S.C., said in a statement.
Two vehicles pulled up to a residence in the town, which is about 77 miles northeast of Charleston. One vehicle stayed on the highway and the other approached the yard, which was filled with about 150 people, the sheriff’s office said. Shots were fired, but it was not clear if the assailants were targeting a particular person or if the shooting was random, the statement said.
A total of eight victims, including a 12-year-old, five teenagers and two adults, were shot, the sheriff’s office said. A 32-year-old woman died on Sunday morning.
“This appears to be a gang-related incident stemming from previous drive-by shootings in other parts of the county,” the sheriff’s office said.
As the weekend’s violence unfolded, senators in Washington continued working to strike a compromise on legislation that would expand the nation’s background check system as well as allocate money for mental health resources, school security and the implementation of “red flag” laws across the states.
Two veterans of failed negotiations in the past — Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat, and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, a Republican — said in separate interviews on Sunday that they believed they were closer to a deal than compared with previous attempts.
“It’s a test of the federal government as to whether we will deliver at a moment of just fierce anxiety among the American public, so we’re closer than ever before,” Mr. Murphy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Mr. Murphy acknowledged that an assault weapons ban and a universal background check law will not be part of a final compromise in order to win the necessary Republican votes, even as House Democrats prepare to force a series of votes on individual gun bills that do not have Republican support.
Mr. Toomey, who saw his own party filibuster the background check deal he helped strike with Democrats after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, said he hoped to see at least half the Republican conference in the Senate support a final agreement.
Back in Philadelphia, Mr. Chen, the cashier, was simply preparing to return to business as usual. Although the attack there had made him nervous, he was not entirely surprised by it, given other recent shootings across the United States.
“It happens all the time,” Mr. Chen said. “You just go on with your day.”
Reporting was contributed by Stacy M. Brown, Cari Wade Gervin, Vimal Patel, Tiffany May, Christopher Mele, Emily Cochrane, Mitch Smith and Dakota Santiago. Kitty Bennett contributed research.