Neighborhood shaken by daytime gunfight outside Philadelphia rec center: "It's the city we live in right now"

Darius Cuevas would love to take his young son to the park across the street from his Lawncrest home, but he says rampant gun violence in the city often gives him second thoughts.

"It's sad to see, sad to say, but it's the city we live in right now," Cuevas said. "I do have a 4-year-old child myself, I can’t even take my son across the street no more."

That reality hit close to home for Cuevas on Thursday when police say a midday gunfight erupted outside Lawncrest Recreation Center during which two dozen shots were fired. Cuevas and his family dove to the floor during the barrage of gunfire that police say sent a bullet into a daycare on nearby Rising Sun Avenue.

City officials have logged 300 incidents of gun violence at Philadelphia Parks and Rec facilities since 2019. As a whole, Philadelphia has suffered more than 500 homicides in each of the last two years, including a historically bloody 2021 in which 562 people were murdered.


"We know that when teens and young adults are engaged in programs at City Parks & Rec sites, and have access to mentors and caring adults, we can get closer to combating the senseless violence that we have seen across the City over the past few years," a Philadelphia Parks and Rec spokesperson told FOX 29. 

That sentiment was echoed by lame duck Mayor Jim Kenney who attended a celebration for graduates at a trades institute on Friday. Kenney maintained that city parks and recreation centers are safe, but added that he "can't guarantee anything in this society." 

"I’m really angry about the recklessness when it comes to shooting willy-nilly and having a bullet go through a daycare window," Kenney said. "These are the kind of people we’re dealing with these are the kind of people who should never have access to guns."

Earlier in the week, city leaders announced the instillation of 100 cameras to create "safe play zones" near 14 Philadelphia recreation centers. Meanwhile, sites like the Lawncrest Rec Center already have a dozen security cameras positioned around the campus. 

"Northeast was a safe place at one point," Cuevas said. "It's literally becoming North Philadelphia.