PHILADELPHIA – Five people have been shot to death in 24 hours in Philadelphia, including two 16-year-old boys, marking a deadly day in a city wrestling with a rise in homicides.
Authorities said the deadly streak began around 1 p.m. Tuesday when city police officers responding to reports of a shooting found an unresponsive 30-year-old man whose back and head were riddled were numerous gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead on the scene within minutes.
Hours later, an argument between teenagers ended up with Caleer Miller and Salvatore Dinubile, both 16, lying on the ground after taking shots in their chests. Police don't know what the disagreement was about but they said the boys were pronounced dead shortly after 9 p.m.
"Years ago it used to be fist fights, now guns are in the mix," said Philadelphia police Capt. John Ryan.
The killings didn't stop after midnight.
In separate incidents, both at about 2 a.m. Wednesday, police said two more people were fatally shot. The first to die was a man in his early 20s, who was found in the middle of the street with a gunshot wound to his head. The second, a 24-year-old man shot in the chest and back, died as two other victims of the same gunman were hospitalized in stable condition.
One man is in custody for the final shooting, but police have not yet announced arrests in the other incidents.
The deaths mark a deadly 24 hours in a city that has failed to stem homicides.
The police department reports that as of Tuesday there have been 253 homicide victims in the city, a 10 percent increase from the same period in 2016. Philadelphia is also on track to have its deadliest year since 2012, when more than 330 people died in homicides.
During a press conference Wednesday, Ryan described the teenagers' deaths as "one of those tragic mixes," and said that authorities have been taking steps to hone in on violent areas to stem the rise in deaths.
Such a tactic is endorsed by David Kennedy, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and the director of the National Network for Safe Communities at the university.
"We don't know how to cure this kind of thing but we know how to make a difference," he said, adding that most shootings are carried out by people in places known to be dangerous. "It is now known that focusing on those very particular places can root out gun violence."