United States

Eight High School Students Injured In Transit System Shooting Spree In Philadelphia

The injured students were swiftly transported to Einstein Medical Center and Jefferson Torresdale Hospital.

An officer works on the scene following the shooting in Northeast Philadelphia. Photo: AP

Eight high school students were wounded by gunfire while waiting to board a city bus after classes in Philadelphia on Wednesday. This marked the fourth shooting incident on the transit system in as many days, according to police reports.

The previous three shootings resulted in fatalities. Among the wounded at the bus stop was a 16-year-old who sustained nine gunshot wounds and was listed in critical condition, stated Kevin Bethel, the city's police commissioner, during a press briefing. Another victim later was reported to also be in critical condition, while the rest were said to be in stable condition.

Bethel disclosed that the students, from Northeast High School and aged between 15 and 17, were waiting for the bus around 3 p.m. when three individuals emerged from a dark blue Hyundai Sonata parked nearby and unleashed over 30 gunshots. The assailants, wearing masks, then fled the scene.

Subsequently, police received multiple 911 calls reporting a "mass shooting on the highway near Dunkin' Donuts" in northeast Philadelphia, according to police spokesperson Tanya Little.

The injured students were swiftly transported to Einstein Medical Center and Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, as confirmed by John Golden, a spokesperson for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). Although gunfire struck two buses — a Route 18 and a Route 67 bus — no passengers or drivers were injured.

Northeast High School, with over 3,000 students, is located over a mile away from the shooting site, making it one of the city's largest public high schools.

Monique Braxton, deputy chief of communications for the Philadelphia school district, indicated that the incident occurred near Crossan Elementary School, prompting the school to initiate lockdown procedures. The lockdown was lifted after receiving clearance from law enforcement.

Mayor Cherelle Parker, accompanied by the city police commissioner, prosecutor, and school superintendent, emphasized the city's determination to combat such violence. "We will not be held hostage," Mayor Parker asserted, vowing to employ all legal means to safeguard public health and safety.

Superintendent Tony Watlington Sr. echoed the sentiment, expressing heartbreak and anger over the innocent students being impacted by gun violence. "Enough is enough," Watlington emphasized, aligning with the mayor's resolve.

Surveillance footage released by the police depicted the Hyundai in a parking lot, with masked individuals exiting the vehicle and heading towards the bus stop before swiftly retreating back into the car and speeding away. The car's tinted windows and unknown license plate raised challenges for law enforcement in identifying the suspects.

The recent shootings follow a troubling pattern of violence on the city's transit system. Despite a decrease in overall crime, transit police chief Charles Lawson pledged an unwavering commitment to tackle illegal gun possession and maintain safety within the transportation network. Increased monitoring and initiatives to empower employees to report potential threats discreetly are among the measures being considered to address the escalating violence.