All the shootings near Philly schools spur more police patrols

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During the first two months of the school year in Philly, there were at least four shootings near the school buildings. At least 29 children were shot.

The violence was so startling that the school’s faculty are speaking out.

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“I wish I could have prepared all my students for safe travel, but I can’t,” Alia Katanche Bradley, principal of Mary McLeod Bethune School, said at a press conference on Monday. We suffer daily from out-of-control gun violence in this city. We are all here to be part of the solution. Obviously we can’t control our way out. It will take all of us.”

Last month, Philadelphia managers rallied to demand more support from the city to stop the killings.

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“I think there is often a misconception about ‘Why don’t the kids go into the building and sit down and go to work? “They can’t go into the building and sit down and work because they had to fight for their lives even to get into the building, and that shouldn’t be their experience.”

Two weeks ago, Philly Police promised to increase patrols in 25 school districts near 35 schools – most of which are middle and high schools. On Monday, local officials including Mayor Jim Kenny and Attorney General Larry Krasner announced that efforts would begin immediately.

“In short, officers assigned to these areas will be on the lookout for any suspicious activity,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. “Students and parents will notice an increase in the number of visible officers.”

When it was announced last month, council member Helen Jim called the change “long overdue.”

The problem has been piling up for years. A 2019 investigation by Billy Penn found that shootings and other crimes are a reality in and around Philly schools. In the past decade, schools across the region have had to announce their closures as frequently as every other school day — usually due to shootings in the vicinity.

Schools have tried to come up with their own solutions to save the students. Some have developed robust programming for emotional support. Others developed a relationship with local police officers, provided weekly grief counseling, and researched new programs to keep children occupied.

For now, the violence continues unabated. Since January 1, Philly has witnessed at least 429 murders, according to police data — and 135 of the victims are under 18.

As a reminder of what is at stake and the depth of the problem, here is a summary of the shootings that have occurred around Philadelphia schools or affected students this year.

Northville charter school has been hit by repeated incidents of gun violence. In September, the school closed its doors for a day of recovery after three students and one graduate were shot in just one week. Only one 15-year-old student survived.

Including last academic year, this makes no less than 10 Gratz students and alumni have been shot.

“This should not be the lived experience of our students and their families,” Principal Dunn wrote in an editorial for the Inquirer. Students should not fear for their safety while traveling to school or sitting outside their homes. More must be done.”

A football game between Central High School and West Philadelphia High School was cut short on Friday in September when 19 shots were fired nearby at 49ers and Spruce. A 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy were shot.

A 15-year-old boy was injured in late September after being shot in the lower leg. It was just before 3 p.m. outside Vaux Big Picture High School in Charswood.

For the Vaux School community, this wasn’t the first time violence had reached their doorstep. In February, a 16-year-old boy was shot four times outside a North Philadelphia school around 3 p.m. Monday.

Students erected a memorial at North Philly EW Rhodes School after their seventh grader, Marcus Stokes, was shot and killed on his way to school. His teacher told The Inquirer that Stokes was smart, and that when he got to class, everyone in the room shook hands.

Stokes was among five other young men who were injured that October morning.

One student wrote in memory of “I miss you”. “Like damn, you didn’t make it to eighth grade. I love you Mark.”

Outside Lincoln High School in Mayfair, a shooting killed a 66-year-old man and injured a 16-year-old boy. Violence erupted when a 21-year-old shot a crowd of teenagers.

An 18-year-old student at the Philadelphia Alternative Education School of Southern Philadelphia Learning Academy accidentally shot himself in the leg while at the gym. The student managed to get a handgun inside the building last month, even though school buildings have metal detectors at their entrances.

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