A young mother died and two others were wounded in a Philadelphia shooting that left various cars riddled with bullet holes and a crime scene that spanned multiple blocks Wednesday morning.
The shooting that began near the intersection of 33rd and Diamond streets in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood erupted around 2:20 a.m. and appeared to be targeted, police said. Three vehicles were hit by the gunfire, all of which were occupied by groups of women, according to police.
“It sounded like the grand finale of the fireworks going off,” one man who was out on his porch and heard the gunshots told NBC10.
The deceased was 24 year-old Chaundrah Jones, who was shot in the back and wrist, Officer Miguel Torres, a Philadelphia Police Department spokesman, said. A sister told NBC10 Jones was a loving mother of two who worked multiple jobs to provide for her kids.
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Jamie Fuller told NBC10 Jones was her mentor. "The first thing I thought about was her sons. She just had a newborn," Fuller said.
Jones and the two other women were together at the 7 Star Lounge in North Philadelphia minutes before the shooting, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector James Kelly said.
They left in two separate cars before stopping about a mile away on 33rd Street, PPD Deputy Commissioner of Investigations Benjamin Naish said. The women were apparently followed from the club, and when they stopped to talk, two gunmen got out of another car and opened fire, Naish said.
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The two other victims were a 26-year-old woman who was also shot in the back and wrist, as well as a 32-year-old woman shot in both her legs and pelvis, Torres said. Both were listed in critical condition.
Witnesses said the women fled for their lives as the hailstorm of bullets rang out, with one vehicle winding up on a sidewalk a few blocks away.
The shooting happened in a residential neighborhood and across the street from a playground, as gunfire continues to plague nearly every part of the city. The death of the woman took the number of homicides in Philadelphia to at least 408 this year.
Police did not immediately make an arrest.
Slayings in the city are up from the same time last year, which was already one of the deadliest on record. Though a surge in killings in 2020 was not reserved merely to Philadelphia – FBI data shows murders rose nearly 30% nationwide last year – the city continues to acutely feel the effects of gun violence.
While District Attorney Larry Krasner said Monday that violent crime and crime in general are down in Philadelphia, he acknowledged the spike in gun crimes both this year and last, calling it an “outrage.”
Mayor Jim Kenney, for his part, said Wednesday that he was "heartbroken and outraged" about the 400-plus killing in Philadelphia this year.
"I want all residents to know that our administration takes this crisis very seriously, and we’re acting with urgency to reduce violence through many means," Kenney said while calling on the public to cooperate with police to help investigations.
Kenney also noted that police officers have this year taken more illegal guns off the streets than they did in 2020.
Last year, there were 2,324 arrests for firearms violations, which Kelly, the chief inspector, said represented "a record-breaking year" for such arrests. This year, there have been 1,973 arrests for firearms violations, he said.
Last year also saw the PPD recover 4,989 "crime guns," while in 2021, the department has already recovered 4,475 of those types of guns, Kelly said. By year's end, the department expects to have recovered more than 6,000 crime guns, he said.
"That's an insane amount of guns that are out here on the streets of Philadelphia," Kelly said.
The neighbor who told NBC10 he heard the gunshots that killed the 24-year-old woman in Strawberry Mansion also seemed exasperated with the problem.
“It seems to me like a lot of young people nowadays, they get thrills off guns and think they’re toys. But they’re not; they’re serious. Once you kill someone, there’s no coming back,” he said.
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.