Hopes for a peaceful start to the new year after record-setting killings in 2021 were quickly dashed when at least two people died in separate quintuple and triple shootings in Philadelphia Saturday morning.
The quintuple shooting happened shortly before 2 a.m. at a New Year’s Eve gathering on the 1600 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue near Temple University and left 16-year-old Byron Thompson of Trenton, New Jersey, dead and four others wounded, Officer Miguel Torres, a Philadelphia Police Department spokesman, said.
Police earlier said two people had died and three women were wounded.
Police clarified that Thompson died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head. In addition, a man in his 20s was shot multiple times in the midsection and was listed in critical condition at Temple University Hospital, police said.
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A 17-year-old girl was shot once in the leg, a woman in her 20s was shot once in the pelvic area and a 27-year-old man was also shot in the leg in the same incident, police later said. All were in stable condition.
“What I can tell you is that the group was part of a larger group who were assembled here in this area for New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day festivities when they were shot,” PPD Inspector D.F. Pace said.
Investigators were hoping to gather surveillance video to help find the shooter.
Separately, a 33-year-old man died and two 23-year-old women were wounded in a triple shooting at another New Year’s Eve party, Pace said.
The party was being held at what appeared to be an auto parts business on the 100 block of East Luray Street, he said.
The shooter, who witnesses told police was at the party and may have known the victims, fired at least six shots around 1:30 a.m., striking the 33-year-old multiple times in the chest and the women once each in the leg, Pace said. The women were in stable condition at Temple University Hospital.
The victims also appeared to be acquaintances, he added. The shooter was described as a man in his 30s who was wearing a yellow hoodie covered by a puffer jacket.
The bloodshed did not end there.
Yet another triple shooting, this one on the 3900 block of Frankford Avenue, wounded three men in their 20s.
A 21-year-old and a 23-year-old were listed in critical but stable condition after walking to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children after being shot in the abdomen, Torres said. A 23-year-old was shot once in the leg and listed in stable condition at Temple University Hospital, he added.
Two other shootings and a stabbing left four people wounded, Torres said.
Saturday's deaths are the first of 2022 and a continuation of the record-setting homicide numbers seen the prior year.
Some 562 people were killed in 2021, according to Philadelphia Police Department statistics. Those killings were the most since the city began keeping track in 1960, and they eclipsed the previous record of 500 slayings in 1990.
The city appropriated $155 million to public safety in its last budget, including $16 million for neighborhood-based groups fighting violence.
However, Mayor Jim Kenney twice this year declined to issue an emergency declaration on gun violence, something pushed by both activists and fellow lawmakers as a way to clear red tape and expedite resources to combat the problem.
Earlier this month, the mayor told NBC10 via email that an emergency declaration on gun violence would have “no discernible impact on strengthening what is already a highly collaborative and innovative approach to addressing this public health crisis.”
City Council President Darrell Clarke issued a statement Friday, saying, "Council and the Mayor clearly must do more in 2022."
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.
Editor's note (Jan. 2, 2022 at 3:25 p.m.): The total number of murders for 2021 has been updated in this article following adjusted figures from the Philadelphia Police Department.