PHILADELPHIA – Police hunted for multiple gunmen Sunday after a shooting rampage on a crowded downtown street killed three people, wounded 11 and ignited chaos as revelers fled the carnage.
Hours later, a shooting at a Tennessee nightclub left three dead and 14 wounded in Chattanooga. One of the deaths involved a person hit by a vehicle during a mad scramble after the shooting started shortly before 3 a.M., Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy said.
And police in Socorro, Texas, on Sunday were investigating a shooting that left five people wounded at a packed graduation party as gun violence continued its unrelenting sweep across the nation.
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In Philadelphia, police issued an alert on Twitter shortly before 1 a.M. Sunday that emergency personnel were responding and “several people have been injured. Please avoid the area.”.
Officers patrolling the popular South Street entertainment district heard the shots and saw what appeared to be multiple gunmen, Philadelphia Police Inspector D.F. Pace said at a briefing.
“An officer engaged the shooter,” Pace said. “As a result of that brave officer – and again we are uncertain whether (the suspect) was struck or not – but the officer was able to get that individual to drop his gun and flee.”.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said two fatalities were innocent bystanders. She said police believe one of the men who died was involved in a physical altercation with another man when “they began firing at one another, with both being struck, one fatally.”.
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Police identified Alexis Quinn, 27, and Gregory “Japan” Jackson, 34, as two of those who lost their lives when violence erupted in the entertainment district Sunday evening.
Teacher’s union AFT Pennsylvania identified Kristopher Minners, 22, as the third victim.
Police said two of the people, including Quinn, were “innocent bystanders.” One of the men killed is believed to be involved in the incident.
“We’re absolutely devastated, devastated by this incident,” Outlaw said.
No arrests were made. Police said five guns were fired; two handguns were recovered at the scene, including one with an extended magazine. Extended or high-capacity magazines carry more bullets.
“Numerous” shell casings were recovered from the area lined with trendy shops, bars and restaurants.
Ron Dangler said he was in his bar and saw unrest unfolding on the street even before the first gunshots rang out. Soon he was helping a woman who was shot in the neck outside his bar, pressing rags against the wound. He said he also pulled two men with gunshot wounds to the leg into the bar and helped another women who was shot in the shoulder.
A 22-year Army veteran, Dangler said he “kind of went into Army mode.” He locked everyone inside the bar as police cleared the scene. Eventually, guests were let out the back of the bar.
Mayor Jim Kenney called the assault “beyond devastating.” Updates on the investigation would be released as more information becomes available, he said.
“Once again, we see lives senselessly lost and those injured in yet another horrendous, brazen and despicable act of gun violence,” Kenney said. “Until we address the availability and ease of access to firearms, we will always be fighting an uphill battle.”.
Police sought help from businesses to gather surveillance video of the attack.
“There were hundreds of individuals just enjoying South Street, as they do every single weekend, when this shooting broke out,” Pace said. “This investigation is fluid. There are still a lot of unanswered questions.”.
On Sunday, the debris from the shooting was mostly cleared from South Street, except for the bullet holes that shattered glass at an empty storefront near Rita’s water ice. Business owners and workers said the shooting was a reflection of the worsening violence in the city and laid bare the deterioration of South Street, a long popular spot for shopping and dining just south of Center City.
“Every day the city is crazy,” said Julian Rivera, who has worked on South Street for 20 years.
Andy Vogel, who has lived just off South Street for about 15 years, said he feels unsafe in his own city.
“I’m not surprised by the shootings anymore,” he said. “I’m just disheartened.”.
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Police are visible on nearly every corner of South Street in the evenings, yet they could not prevent the mass shooting, he said.
“Either the police are not doing a good enough job, or it is impossible for them to do a good enough job,” Vogel said. “At some point, I believe guns are going to be outlawed.”.
Adam Garber, executive director of the advocacy group CeaseFirePA Education Fund, called the shooting “entirely predictable” and called on state lawmakers in Harrisburg to tighten firearms controls.
It will only end when elected officials… Take action,” Garber said of the violence. “When they say that no one needs an extended magazine to hunt. That no one needs an assault weapon for safety.”.
In Socorro, Police Chief David Burton said about 100 teens and young adults were celebrating at a high school graduation party early Saturday when someone began firing into the crowd. Two of the wounded teens were in critical condition.
In Chattanooga, Murphy said there were multiple shooters but that the shooting was considered an isolated incident. Authorities don’t believe there’s an ongoing public safety threat.
“We’re trying to determine exactly what happened and what led up to this taking place,” she said.
Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, a self-described “avid hunter” and gun owner, called on Congress to address gun violence.
“That doesn’t mean taking guns away from responsible gun owners, but it does mean mandatory background checks and prohibiting high-capacity magazines that allow shooters to hurt dozens of people without even having to reload,” he said. “It’s going to be a long summer, and we have got to get out in front of it and put a stop to it.”.
Bacon reported from Arlington, Virginia.
Contributing: Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times; The Associated Press; Crissa Shoemaker DeBree, Bucks County Courier Times.