Philadelphia police were looking for several gunmen on Sunday after a shooting amid a crowd of revelers on a street in downtown Philadelphia killed three people, injured 11 others and sparked chaos as people fleeing the carnage.
Hours later, a shooting at a Tennessee nightclub left three dead and 14 injured in Chattanooga as gun violence continued its relentless sweep across the country. Fourteen people were hit by gunfire and three were hit by vehicles in a mad dash to safety after the shooting shortly before 3 a.m., Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy said.
In Philadelphia, police issued a Twitter alert shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday that emergency personnel were responding and “several people have been injured. Please avoid the area.”
Officers patrolling the popular South Street entertainment district heard the gunshots and saw what appeared to be several gunmen, Philadelphia Police Inspector DF Pace said during a briefing. An officer shot a suspect; it was not immediately clear if the shooter was injured, Pace said.
“The officer engaged the shooter, and following this brave officer – and again, we don’t know if he got hit or not – but the officer managed to get this individual to let go his weapon and runs away.”
Two men and a woman were killed, all of whom suffered multiple gunshot wounds, Pace said. Damien Woods, spokesman for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, said 10 people were taken to hospital. Three had died, one was later released and the other six were in stable condition.
No arrests were made. Two handguns were recovered from the scene, including one with an extended magazine. Extended or high capacity magazines can be added to firearms so that they carry more bullets.
“Numerous” bullet casings were recovered from the scene, an area lined with trendy shops, bars and restaurants.
Mayor Jim Kenney called the assault “beyond devastating” and said updates on the investigation would be released as more information becomes available.
“Once again we see lives needlessly lost and people injured in yet another horrific, brazen and despicable act of gun violence,” Kenney said. “Until we address the availability and ease of access to firearms, we will always be fighting an uphill battle.”
Police were seeking the help of numerous local businesses to collect surveillance video of the attack.
“There were hundreds of people taking advantage of South Street, as they do every weekend, when this shooting broke out,” Pace said. “This investigation is fluid. There are still many unanswered questions.”
Eric Walsh, who works at an area bar, told the Philadelphia Inquirer he saw a young woman fall to the ground.
“People were coming out of the streets with blood spattered on white sneakers and scraped knees and scraped elbows,” Walsh said. “We were literally balling up towels, wetting them and handing them to people.”
Maureen Long, who lives nearby, said she was “furious”.
“Not just for my neighborhood, for the whole country,” she told nbcphiladelphia.com. “If I hear ‘thoughts and prayers’ once again… We can’t disagree on this. We have to do something. I don’t care what your political leanings are.
“We can’t keep letting people kill people.”
Adam Garber, executive director of advocacy group CeaseFirePA Education Fund, called the shooting “entirely predictable” and called on Harrisburg state lawmakers to tighten gun controls.
It will only end when elected officials … act,” Garber said of the violence. “When they say no one needs a long magazine to hunt. That no one needs an assault weapon for their safety.”
In Chattanooga, Murphy said there were multiple shooters but the shooting was considered an isolated incident. Authorities do not believe there is an ongoing threat to public safety.
“We are trying to determine exactly what happened and what led to this,” she said.
Contribute: The Associated Press