'Scared to come outside': Neighbors along South Philadelphia public safety walk say gun violence is out of control

They met with police and lawmakers after the second deadly shooting in four days within a six-block area
Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson at a resident's door in Point Breeze. Two people were shot and killed within six blocks of each other in a four-day period.
Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson at a resident's door in Point Breeze. Two people were shot and killed within six blocks of each other in a four-day period. Photo credit Nina Baratti/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A group of community activists went door-to-door in South Philadelphia for a “Peace, Not Guns" walk Wednesday afternoon in a neighborhood where residents say they’re scared to even step outside their homes.

Damon Smith, 45, was fatally shot near the corner of South 21st and Dickinson streets in Point Breeze Saturday afternoon.

Police officers and volunteers joined Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson in knocking on doors near the corner where Smith was shot. They handed out information about resources related to gun violence.

"We have been doing some concrete things. But obviously, we need more work to do,” said Johnson on Wednesday. “We didn't get here overnight, so we're not going to solve this overnight."

Johnson said elected officials have made significant investments in gun violence prevention initiatives.

“The fact that we're all meeting and working together, I think that's concrete,” said Johnson.

"We didn't have that type of cohesiveness of people working together before in the past, and again, the only way we're going to solve this is all of us working together.”

But the gun violence crisis continues on.

This was the second time this week that organizers held such a walk after a South Philadelphia homicide. They did the same Monday afternoon after Joelill Foy, 26, was shot and killed just six blocks away last week.

Philadelphia is now on pace to surpass the city’s record one-year homicide total of 560 from last year. A woman was shot and killed in Frankford while she was grilling a meal for her family, becoming the 322nd homicide victim of 2022.

Karen Carvalho, who lives in Point Breeze, said she lost her 25-year-old son to gun violence a couple of years ago.

"It's nightmares. It's everything. It's horrible,” Carvalho conveyed. “People are scared to come outside. I'm scared to even walk to the store. It's just horrible. We've never lived like this before."

She added that she suffered a heart attack after her son was killed.

“I’ve got stents in my heart. For the rest of my life, I'm on blood thinners. It just needs to stop,” Carvalho tearfully said.

“I'm begging. Y'all took my son. Y’all have got to stop. You're hurting people's families. People's families are suffering.”

Neighbor Beverly Hines said it's getting out of control.

"The young boys, they don't even care about life,” Hines said.

“Because when they pull that trigger and kill innocent people, just killing anybody, they're going to jail for the rest of their life. They're never going to live life. They won't make nothing, see nothing, have nothing, be nothing."

Mayor Jim Kenney told KYW Newsradio Wednesday that the city is not doing enough to curtail the gun violence crisis, but will continue to try and “interrupt” violent crime and take illegal guns off the streets.

Police said on Wednesday in a press briefing that 119 juveniles have been shot this year alone. 31 of them are under the age of 15.

They added that they have not taken anyone into custody for Smith’s killing, but have identified several people of interest.

Kristen Johanson contributed to this report.

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