'Saddened and outraged': Commissioner Outlaw addresses spate of gun violence among teens

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw on Wednesday said she is "saddened and outraged" about the recent spate of gun violence and insured residents that her department is working to end the bloodshed. 

"The duty to protect these children belongs to all of us," Outlaw said. "The public has my full assurance that the Philadelphia Police Department is doing everything possible to curb gun violence in the city." 

Outlaw's comments came the morning after two 15-year-olds were shot overnight in Philadelphia. One of the teenage victims, later identified as Antonio Walker, died after being shot in the chest and arm in Kingsessing around 7 p.m. 

RELATED: Police identify 15-year-old boy shot and killed in Kingsessing

Outlaw said the deadly shooting that happened on the 5200 block of Pentridge Street "has left an indelible mark on his family, his friends, and the community."

Hours later, in the city's Holmesburg section, another 15-year-old was wounded when police said two gunmen opened fire outside a gas station mini-market. The teen was picked up by police with a non-fatal gunshot wound to the leg. 

MORE: Police: 15-year-old shot in leg following argument inside Holmesburg mini-market

"Thankfully, he will survive his injuries, but we cannot ignore the physical and emotional trauma that this juvenile and his family will have to endure for some time," Outlaw said.

Reaching back two weeks ago, Outlaw cited another young life lost to gun violence. Embaba Mengesteabe, also 15, was inside a car with her brother on the 6200 block of Chestnut Street when she was shot and critically wounded. She died at the hospital days later. 

Outlaw said another 15-year-old was arrested in connection to the deadly shooting. The young suspect was not identified. 

"We were shattered. That’s the best way I can put it out. The community was shattered and very upset of her demise," Principal of Motivation High School Rennu Teli-Johnson told FOX 29.

"For 2020 our female victims made up 8% of the total. Forty out of 499 victims were females. Juveniles made up 7% of that 2020 total, 35 of the 499," Philadelphia Police Captain Jason Smith said during a press conference Wednesday.

Now, the numbers from the same year to-date through March 9.

"Female victims are up 116% from 2020, 6 to 13. Female domestic victims are up over 150% from 2020 two to five," Smith added.

Smith adds that social media is playing a large role in these homicides.

 "Kids are out of school, not a whole lot to do. We see these Instagram wars, which are nonsensical to me, but they seem to take this stuff very seriously. They have access to firearms. This is the result," he said.

Philadelphia is fast approaching 100 homicides so far this year, according to the latest data from the police department. The 35% increase in deadly crimes comes after the city saw nearly 500 homicides in 2020. 



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