More police officers and anti-violence workers will be on the streets Memorial Day weekend, city leaders said, after two teenagers were killed Tuesday night.
Preparing for summer, when shooting numbers typically rise, could prove difficult during a year in which Philadelphia has already experienced sky-high rates of violence.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw expressed concern Wednesday, saying her department is expecting to deal with crowds close to pre-pandemic levels as the city progresses toward reopening.
“We’ve been seeing these steady increases, quite frankly, over the last few months,” she told reporters during a virtual briefing. “We thought that the cooler weather would slow things down. It did not.”
A total of 208 people have been killed in Philadelphia since the start of the year, up 41% compared to this time in 2020.
“They’re so much more than a number,” Outlaw said. “These lives that are lost are members of communities. Entire communities are affected, and families’ lives are forever changed.”
On Tuesday night, within a span of about 30 minutes, 15-year-old Kanye Pittman and 18-year-old Nasir Marks were fatally shot in separate incidents.
Pittman, investigators said, was approached by multiple people just before 8 p.m. on the 2500 block of N. Sydenham Street in North Philadelphia. He was shot several times and died a short time later at Temple University Hospital.
Officers found Marks, who lived in Overbrook Park, with multiple gunshot wounds at around 7:30 p.m. on the 3900 block of Poplar Street in West Philadelphia, police said. He succumbed to his injuries at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
“We don’t have a lot of information at this moment,” Deputy Police Commissioner Benjamin Naish said Wednesday afternoon when asked about the shootings.
Naish, who oversees investigations, said it appears that both victims were targeted.
Later Tuesday, at around 11:45 p.m., a 16-year-old boy survived after being shot in the leg and groin on the 3800 block of N. 6th Street in the Hunting Park neighborhood, according to authorities.
Of the 815 people shot in Philadelphia this year, 81 have been under the age of 18, Outlaw said.
Teams of officers will be dispatched this weekend, the unofficial start of summer, to patrol parks, recreation centers, business corridors and crime hotspots, PPD leaders said.
Deputy Police Commissioner Joel Dales said there will be a focus on rec centers where shootings have occurred over the past year. Police will also be on the lookout for pop-up block parties operating without permits, he added.
Thirty-five employees from the city’s Community Crisis Intervention Program will be stationed in 13 police districts this weekend, said Erica Atwood, a senior director in the Mayor’s Office.
Anti-violence workers will be on call to respond to incidents Sunday and Monday, according to Atwood.