Two 6-Year-Olds Were Shot This Week. Will 10K Rewards Help Catch The Gunmen?
In the space of a little more than just 48 hours this week, two 6-year-old children were shot on the streets of Philadelphia.
This should be the type of news that stops people in their tracks and shakes them to their core, no matter if they live in the neighborhoods where the shootings unfolded or not. We’re talking about innocent children, after all. But it doesn’t that have that effect — not any more, anyway — because this stuff keeps happening, over and over and over and over again. (NBC-10 puts the total number of children under the age of 13 who have been shot since the beginning of last year at 21.)
Police officials gathered in the lobby of the Roundhouse on Friday afternoon to recap the latest shooting of a defenseless kid, and to try and bargain with residents who might have information about the gunmen who put little Mahaj Brown in St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in critical condition late Thursday night.
Chief Inspector Carl Holmes announced the city is offering a reward of $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the shooter who wounded Mahaj and three other people in East Germantown. They’re offering the same reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of the careless gunman who shot and critically wounded a 6-year-old girl, Anila Garrick, who was struck by a stray bullet in front of her home in West Oak Lane on Tuesday night.
“We are appealing to people’s sense of compassion to give us information,” said Chief Inspector Jame Kelly III.
Here’s what investigators know so far: between 30 and 40 shots were fired on Ashmeade Street near Clarkson Avenue in East Germantown shortly before 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Police said a green Chrysler minivan drove along Clarkson with its rear sliding door open; shots rang out from inside the van.
A 29-year-old man who had reached into his own minivan to grab a pack of cigarettes was wounded in the lower back. (He was later treated and released.) Another 29-year-old man who tried to take shelter in anearby house was wounded several times and critically injured.
Meanwhile, police said, Mahaj Brown and his godfather were riding in a Pontiac Bonneville on Clarkson when someone in a passing Mercury Mountaineer began firing at them. Mahaj was wounded in the chest and leg; his godfather was wounded in the left arm.
Numerous houses and cars in the area were struck by stray gunfire, but no other injuries were reported. “What is concerning to us is that several of the fired casing cartridges were from an AK-47 assault rifle,” Holmes said. “The other casings were from a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, and a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.”
Lt. Daniel Brooks of Northwest Detectives said investigators have tracked down surveillance footage from local homes and businesses. The Mountaineer is a newer model, he said — two-toned wth a distinctive spare tire rack in the rear, a roof rack, running boards on the side, and a distinctive turn signal on the front grill.
Police didn’t release any descriptions of the shooters. Holmes said the shooting was a “wanton act of violence,” possibly the result of some age-old neighborhood beef. This much is clear: the 6-year-old and his godfather weren’t the targets.
Holmes and Kelly said they understand people’s reluctance to pass information onto cops. But calls can be made anonymously to 215-686-TIPS, or to Northwest Detectives at 215-686-3354.
Little kids, Holmes said, ought to be able to sit on their steps or play in their neighborhoods without having to worry about catching a bullet. “Everybody here grew up in neighborhoods all over the city. We have fond memories of summer nights, sitting out and hanging out and playing without it being basically destroyed by gunfire.”
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