Last year there were only 11 days when no one was shot in Philadelphia, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. On average, more than four people a day were struck by bullets. About one in six died. On one day – Oct. 22 – 19 people were shot, one fatally. The toll of injury and death falls most heavily on the same few neighborhoods year after year. “Are some areas more prone to violence than others? Yes,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Patricia Giorgio-Fox. “Do we recognize that? Yes. Do we deploy in those areas? Yes. But we cannot be at all of them all of the time.”
The number of shootings – even after months of intensified policing and antiviolence rallies prompted by the killing of a 10-year-old boy in a schoolyard last year – has dismayed many Philadelphians. Simply counting killings misses the level of gun violence permeating the city neighborhoods that suffer the most. “The hidden story is shootings,” said Charles Branas, a University of Pennsylvania researcher who is studying shootings in Philadelphia and their causes. For every homicide, several other people get shot and survive, he added. From 2001 through March 15 of this year, 6,265 people were shot in Philadelphia. Seventeen percent died. What keeps the death toll from zooming higher is the expertise of emergency-room doctors. An Inquirer analysis of police crime data shows that between 2001 and 2004, 50 percent of shooting victims were under age 25, most African American males.