Drugs, retaliation contributing to surge in Philadelphia shootings

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Nearly three dozen people were shot over the weekend, as violence continues to surge in Philadelphia. 

Eight of those victims were teenagers, between 16 and 19 years old. Four other victims are dead — including a 17-year-old — adding to the record-breaking number of city homicides so far this year. 

Arguments, retaliation, and drugs are the main reasons for the influx of shootings, according to Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner Joel Dales.

“In some parts of the city, I am noticing an increase in narcotics-related issues, such as to fight over drug turf, and also gang violence in some parts of the city,” he said.

Sometimes, it’s as small as an argument on social media that leads to a shooting, authorities say. 

About 60% of the victims are Black men between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. The second most common demographic includes Black men between 25 and 34 years old.

Dales said officers are being deployed in highly violent areas, but it doesn’t always deter the shootings.

“I have watched many videos where the police officers arrive in a matter of seconds after the shooting has occurred, and there have also been times where police pass the same location where the shooting occurs as soon as a police officer leaves,” noted Dales, who runs the department’s patrol operations.

Homicide detectives are working around the clock, taking on more and more cases each day. Although the unit added six more detectives this year, they are still struggling to keep up. Dales said detectives are solving about half of the homicides that come into the department.

“People are afraid to come forward because they are afraid that someone could retaliate and someone could come after them because they reported the information to the police,” he explained. “There are some people in the community who just don’t want to cooperate with the police because of the lack of trust or respect.”

Dales urges people within the community to come forward with information in order to get violent offenders off the streets. 

“There are some folks in the community who know exactly who are carrying guns, where they are hiding the guns, who are the problematic people in the neighborhood, and we need those people to step up and let the police department know so we can definitely focus on those individuals,” he said. “If they need resources, we can focus on providing resources to encourage them to put those gun downs. … We cannot do this alone.”

Individuals can submit tips anonymously by phone at 215-686-TIPS or online. People who write in tips will not be contacted by police.

“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Dales reiterated, “and I am sure people can see that. … It’s going to take a collaborative effort to stop the shootings in our city.”