After South St. mass shooting, Philly mayor says removing guns only way to stop increased street violence

Mayor Jim Kenney said there were enough police on South Street Saturday night. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Mayor Jim Kenney said there were enough police on South Street Saturday night. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Mayor Jim Kenney said there were enough police on South Street Saturday night, but they couldn’t prevent two men from opening fire on each other and innocent bystanders.

Kenney spoke to local media Tuesday morning after speaking to the national press on Monday. He said he’s reviewed the video from both police bodycams and surveillance cameras throughout the South Street area where the incident occurred. He said guns are to blame for the violence getting out of hand.

“I see two young guys confront each other in an altercation,” Kenney said. “The one guy who wound up killing the other guy, he wouldn’t walk away. So, they show each other. They show each other their manhood and show each other their guns. And that’s why that went further than it should have gone.”

The mayor explained there were plenty of officers on South Street because of anticipated crowds due to two major events in town.

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“There were about 70 police that were in that area because we knew we could have a large crowd after Roots Picnic and after Pride. And that’s what we were prepared for. You can’t, when someone’s carrying a concealed weapon, you can’t just stop them and frisk.”

When asked about bringing in the National Guard or declaring a state of emergency due to the gun violence Kenney shot back, “The National Guard are not permitted to do law enforcement, they can’t control streets and make arrests. They are not licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to do what a police officer does,” he said.

“What they are good for is when we had our civil unrest guarding structures, which would have been looted or burned. But we cannot have National Guard troops with rifles patrolling streets in Philadelphia because they’re not permitted by law to do anything about making an arrest, and I think it’s disrespectful to the community to have soldiers in their neighborhoods,” said Kenney.

The mayor said police are working on ways to better handle crowds on South Street as the summer continues. He said there is no way to quickly add more police officers to the force because of difficulty recruiting people for the positions.

If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources here.

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