A month into 2012, Philadelphia has been shaken by crimes that have shocked and horrified, says the Philadelphia Daily News. On Jan. 10, a man opened fire on a car filled with teens, killing three of them. A few days later, a 23-year-old man was fatally beaten on a crowded street. Then last week came the execution-style murder of store clerk Rosemary “Reyna” Rivera, who police say was killed because she had witnessed another homicide in her neighborhood.
“January was an extremely challenging month for the city,” said Everett Gillison, Mayor Michael Nutter’s chief of staff and deputy mayor for public safety. “I believe everyone is talking about it, which I believe is a good thing.” As of Tuesday, the city had tallied 34 homicides in 2012. That’s one more than last year’s January count and more than January 2007, when the city had 32 homicides in the month and finished the year with 391, a five-year high. Last year, the city had 324 homicides. “The crime rate always fluctuates. It’s very difficult to predict from one month to another,” said Jerry Ratcliffe, a Temple University professor of criminal justice. “Everybody recognizes this is a concern, but we have to be realistic. This is one month worth of data, and 34 victims in a city of 1.5 million people.”