Philadelphia recorded its first three homicides of 2021 on New Year’s Day, the first of which came just after midnight, continuing a spree of violence that had already cemented the previous year as one of the city’s deadliest in the last three decades.
A shooting in the 100 block of Ritner Street in South Philadelphia around 12:30 a.m. killed Rudolph Ebinger, 37, of South Front Street, police said.
Later in the day, police said they have arrested a suspect, but police are not releasing the suspect's name until formal charges are filed.
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In Southwest Philadelphia, a 26-year-old man was shot twice in the head and once in the arm on the 2500 block of S. 66th Street shortly before 4:30 a.m., Little said. Medics rushed him to Penn-Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:36 a.m.
In North Philadelphia, a man between 30 and 40 years old walked into Temple University Hospital around 4:39 a.m. and collapsed after sustaining gunshot wounds to the right side of his chest and shoulder, Little said. He was pronounced dead a little less than an hour later.
Police did not immediately make any arrests in the second two slayings.
Elsewhere, Little said four people were shot but survived Friday morning. In addition, two others were nonfatally stabbed.
The deadly shootings, however, come as another blow to a city that has been reeling from record-setting killings.
As 2020 drew to a close Thursday night, Philadelphia had recorded 499 homicides, according to Philadelphia Police Department data. That was the highest murder total since 1990, when there were 500 deaths.
Experts believe the record-setting violence – not just in Philadelphia but also in other cities across the country – is due partly to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
"The best way to understand crime is the change in opportunity, which has come about by wholesale changes during the course of 2020," Temple University criminologist Jerry Ratcliffe said in an interview with NBC10 in November.
Recently released studies of violence during the pandemic give credence to a large role that lockdowns played in the increase in homicides and assaults.
Penn Medicine researchers who analyzed emergency room visits during and immediately preceding the pandemic lockdown, as well as five previous years, concluded that the sudden society upheaval caused the surging gun violence.
It hit predominantly Black communities especially hard, the study's authors said.
“The pandemic and the subsequent stay-at-home order exacerbated the existing hidden – yet omnipresent – epidemic of urban gun violence, as young, African-American males were the primary victims we saw,” senior author Dr. Jose Pascual said.
The conclusion is that "unprecedented social isolation policies to address COVID-19 were associated with increased intentional injury, especially gun violence," according to the published findings.
The Penn Medicine research focused on Philadelphia, but homicides in numerous cities increased in 2020.
In a nationwide study, the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice found that violent crime in 21 cities jumped in both the summer and fall this year compared to previous years.
"Homicides, aggravated assaults, and gun assaults rose significantly beginning in late May and June of 2020," according to the study released at the end of November. "Homicide rates increased by 42% during the summer and 34% in the fall over the summer and fall of 2019."
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.