Philadelphia hit a grim milestone Wednesday as the city experienced its 500th homicide of the year, one which has plagued multiple cities with increasing levels of violence following years of relative peace.
The latest killing involved a 55-year-old woman found by police officers shot multiple times around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. She later died at a hospital.
“Each and every homicide carries with it a profound sense of loss. However, for our City to have reached such a tragic milestone – 500 lives cut short – it carries a weight that is almost impossible to truly comprehend,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement.
Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, blamed the uptick in violence on the flow of illegal guns into the city and chided state lawmakers for not doing enough to enact tighter gun laws.
“The volume of guns that are in circulation in our communities is at a record-high,” he said while surrounded by city leaders and community members at a Wednesday news conference. “[Crime guns] join a sea of illegal and legal guns that are accessible in the heat of the moment, turning what could have stayed an argument into a homicide.”
“It’s all about greed. There are people making money selling these guns and the Legislature, not the people behind me, don’t care,” he added. “They don’t care how many people get killed. It’s ridiculous.”
Wednesday’s shooting came days after a 24-year-old woman was shot in front of her young children. Sykea Patton was shot several times by her ex-boyfriend on Nov. 19, police said.
Outlaw noted that despite the rise in killings, homicides are trending downward as the city was hovering around a 40% increase earlier in the year. That number is down to a 13% uptick in homicides, she said.
“Of course this isn’t anything to celebrate,” she said. “What we’re doing is working but we have to do more.”