Philadelphia surpasses 2019’s homicide total with nearly three months left in 2020

Chalk circles drawn on the sidewalk mark where shell casings landed at 22nd and Jackson Streets in South Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Chalk circles drawn on the sidewalk mark where shell casings landed at 22nd and Jackson Streets in South Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

With nearly three months left to go, the number of people murdered in Philadelphia so far this year has already surpassed the total for all of 2019, according to police.

Three people were fatally shot over the weekend, bringing the homicide count to 355 by Sunday night.

Then on Monday, another fatal shooting took place in the parking lot of a popular South Philly Lowe’s store after 1 p.m. A 21-year old man was shot nine times across his body. He later died from his injuries at Jefferson Hospital.

The Lowe’s shooting brought the city to a total of 356 homicides, the same number the city ended with last year. Just over an hour later, a 27-year-old man died after he was shot in the head three times in Grays Ferry, according to police, bringing the total to 357.

Philadelphia’s year-to-date homicide total is now the highest it’s been in a decade.

Meanwhile, the number shooting victims is up 47% over 2019 with police reporting more than 1,600 people injured by gunfire so far this year.

Among those killed over the weekend was 15-year-old Omar Wade who suffered gunshot wounds to the head and leg shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday on the corner of 22nd and Jackson streets in South Philadelphia. An 18-year-old also suffered a gunshot wound to the back. Both teens were taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where Wade died from his wounds Sunday night.

The second young man remains in critical condition, according to police. No arrests were made and no guns were recovered.

Nour Ismail, her husband and 6-year-old son were working in their pizza shop when the shooting occurred.

Ismail described hearing noises, which she thought were fireworks at first, while cooking over the grill, only to have her husband point across the street.

“He saw the gun and then I went over and I looked, and I saw the guy fall and I called 911,” she said, her voice still shaking. “It was surprising, especially because it was such young children — 15, 18.”

Ismail described the corner as quiet with a hot housing market bringing in lots of new families. She said it’s a great place to raise children.

“You know a lot of stuff happens in North Philly or different parts of South Philly, but not so commonly right here, so I’m hoping it doesn’t get like this,” Ismail said. “I really don’t think that it’s going to be something that’s more common … I hope.”

Young people this summer, however, said they’re tired of hoping things will get better, especially as they see gun violence increasingly take a toll on their generation.

They’ve marched and called on the city to take urgent — and more drastic — action to deal more effectively with the epidemic.

A special city council committee has held a handful of public hearings to discuss possible ways to reduce gun violence and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier was joined by some of her colleagues last month in asking Mayor Jim Kenney to declare gun violence a citywide emergency.

A spokeswoman for Gauthier said the councilmember is slated to meet with Kenney to discuss the proposal this week.

Find a list of resources for those affected by gun violence here.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal