PHILADELPHIA - City leaders and community members called an emergency meeting at the Christy Rec Center Saturday to address the latest surge in deadly shootings against Philadelphia's youth.
Cries for serious change echoed from Philadelphia Police and District Attorney Larry Krasner, to community partners and concerned neighbors. They mourned the loss of young lives and pledged "not one more."
"The loss of Kahree Simmons is painful and traumatic for his family," Philadelphia Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier said.
Investigators said 16-year-old Kahree Simmons was shot and killed Thursday while playing basketball with two 15-year-olds at the Christy Rec Center when a group of people fired at least 45 shots at the teens. Simmons died at Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, the two other victims are expected to recover.
"These are kids that are in school. These are kids that have jobs and bright futures ahead of them and their lives are being canceled. For what?!" state representative Joanna McClinton said.
On Friday a 17-year-old was shot and killed outside a rec center in Kingsessing. And on Thursday afternoon, 17-year-old Tamir Brown was killed in a quadruple shooting in Overbrook that also claimed the life of a 24-year-old.
For Sgt. Johnson, in Philadelphia's 18th district, the loss feels personal.
"I worry about my son every day he walks out the house," Johnson said.
Philadelphia police said they are setting up patrols around the rec center in West Philadelphia with two officers stationed there twelve hours a day.
Robert Parker is the assistant principal at Kahree's school and knew him well. Now he worries for his own son, not much younger than the victims.
"Even if there are disagreements you can handle it without violence," Parker said. "I don’t want my son to not be a child. Not be able to have fun, and feel safe in his community. But I do talk to him about being aware."
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