Philadelphia’s gun-violence crisis surged in August to levels unmatched in recent history, with 275 people shot, by far the highest total for a single month since at least 2007, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. It was the fourth consecutive month that the victim tally has increased to heights not seen in years. Two 17-year-olds were killed in a drive-by. Five people were shot at a block party memorializing a slain basketball star. Six people were struck when gunmen fired more than 30 bullets at a crowd; a wayward shot flew into an apartment and struck a man sleeping. On weekends it has become routine for dozens to be killed or wounded. Before this spring, the city had experienced only two months over 13 years when more than 180 people were shot. This May, 184 were shot, and the bloodshed has intensified: 201 were shot in June, 215 in July and 275 in August.
Some adults have begun determining where and when they relax outside based on the likelihood of being free from gunfire. The gun violence has helped fuel the skyrocketing homicide tally, making it all but certain that this year will record at least 400 murders for the first time since 2006, even as overall violent crime has declined amid the coronavirus pandemic. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and District Attorney Larry Krasner point to systemic issues that have worsened during this challenging year: deep poverty, lack of opportunity, easy access to guns. City Council member Jamie Gauthier asked Mayor Jim Kenney to declare a state of emergency and direct more resources toward local antiviolence programs. U.S. Attorney William McSwain echoed concerns from police officers that Krasner has been too lenient on defendants and that the city has too quickly reduced its jail population. Outlaw says Krasner’s office has had less success convicting people for carrying illegal guns.