PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia police are searching for leads after a violent weekend that left a 2-year-old girl shot to death and an 11-month-old in critical condition with four gunshot wounds.
The 2-year-old girl was killed Sunday afternoon when somebody fired a rifle into a home in Kensington, in northern Philadelphia. She was hit in the back of the head and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
The girl’s mother was holding her at the time and sustained a gunshot wound to her arm and a grazing wound to her head, police said. A man in the home, who police said was there to clean carpets, was shot in the abdomen and is in critical condition. Also inside the house were the slain girl’s grandmother and three other small children.
Philadelphia Police Captain Jason Smith told reporters Monday the 7.62 mm rifle rounds found at the house appeared to match rounds fired minutes earlier at a black SUV several blocks away, and were likely fired by the same weapon.
“You should always feel that you are OK in your home, and you should feel that when you’re with your parents you’re safe.” said Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter at a Monday press conference. “These scenes should not continue to happen in our city. We’re a great city, and we need to do better. We have to do better.”
The 11-month-old was shot four times while sitting inside a vehicle around 8 p.m. Saturday in Philadelphia’s Hunting Park area, police said.
That child was hit once in the head, once in the neck and twice in the buttocks with 9 mm rounds, Philadelphia Police Captain Nicholas Brown told reporters Monday.
“As it stands right now, the child’s in very, very, very critical condition,” Brown said. “The prognosis is that there will be no chance for full recovery for that child, and if the child survives, it will most likely be a quadriplegic.”
A preliminary investigation indicated the bullets hit the rear of the car and traveled through the trunk before striking the baby.
Besides the driver, there may have been another person in the car who might have been the intended target, Brown said.
The motive was unclear in both shootings.
“We need people to give us information on who these folks are,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said to reporters. “I know people are concerned and afraid– but when it comes to children I think we need to have this information so we can lock these people up and get them off the street.”
Kenney also called for legislation at the state and federal levels to limit the flow of firearms.
“Philadelphians should not live in fear of violence that could take away a child’s life,” Kenney said in a tweet Sunday evening. “But for too many, this is a sad reality. With the unabated flow of illegal guns and drugs, we must do whatever we can locally to address violence and help residents.”
‘We can’t protect our children’
There have been more than 270 homicide victims in the city of Philadelphia this year, according to statistics by Philadelphia police.
“I’m physically sick because just as a nation we can’t protect our children,” Pennsylvania state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell told CNN.
“It’s not drug wars, it’s not gang wars, it’s petty thieves, it’s people with no common sense and easy accessibility to guns. They don’t know how to resolve their problems so they use guns… what they’re doing is catching a whole lot of innocent people in the cross fire.”
The representative said she is hopeful legislators will “be doing something very shortly” in terms of gun violence in Philadelphia.
“The people that make the decisions and hold the purse strings need to put themselves in the position of these families who now have to bury their loved ones,’ she said. “This can’t continue to be business as usual or politics as usual.”
Another state representative weighed in on Twitter.
“Two babies were shot this weekend in Philadelphia,” Rep. Jordan A. Harris said in a Sunday night tweet.