The shooting of a 10-year-old boy walking home from school is the latest tragedy in the escalating problem of violent crime in Philadelphia.
Semaj O’Branty, a student at Sullivan elementary school in the city’s Frankford section, was in critical but stable condition at a hospital Thursday, a day after being shot in the back of the head by a stray bullet. Police say he was caught in the crossfire between a shooter in a red Pontiac G6 who escaped and the intended target, who was apprehended.
Police released pictures of the car after obtaining surveillance video of the gunfire, which happened at 3:13 p.m. near where the boy lives. Hours earlier, Mayor Jim Kenney had called for stricter federal and state gun-control laws to help cities counter violent crime.
Semaj underwent surgery Thursday and is expected to survive, but the incident adds to a worrisome list of recent shootings that have victimized children in Philadelphia. The city has registered its highest number of homicides to date in 12 years.
“Folks have just had enough,’’ acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter told TV station WPVI. “There’s never an excuse to open fire in an area a block from a school where kids are out there. It should never happen.’’
Perhaps the most appalling killing in a recent spree happened three weeks ago, during a horrific weekend in which a 2-year-old girl was shot to death after a gunman fired into her North Philadelphia home. Also wounded were the girl's mother and a man at the house.
The previous day, an 11-month-old baby inside a moving car was shot four times but survived.