Philadelphia has set a new record for the number of homicides in a single year following another round of killings on Nov. 27, making 2021 the deadliest year in the city’s history with one more full month remaining before the end of the year.
With the latest shootings, the number of homicide victims stands at 503. The last time the number crossed 500 was in 1990, during the crack cocaine epidemic. The Philadelphia Police Department has been keeping homicide records since at least 1960, and the 2021 rate has now surpassed all previous years. There were 499 murders in 2020.
According to police statistics, by the end of November 2020, the number of homicide victims stood at 450, while in 2019, it was 325 and in 2018, it was 307.
On Nov. 27, a 51-year-old man was shot at 3 p.m. at 10th and Brown streets in North Philadelphia. He was taken to the hospital, but pronounced dead on arrival. This was followed by a 33-year-old who died from multiple gunshots in the Olney neighborhood at roughly 7:10 p.m. The names of the victims haven’t been released and no arrests have been made.
On Nov. 26, a man in his 30s was shot dead at about 9 p.m. on the 7100 block of Ardleigh Street in East Mount Airy. Two days before that, on Nov. 24, the city’s 500th murder victim of 2021 was recorded by police, who identified the individual as Eloise Harmon.
Harmon, 55, was shot following a domestic dispute on Jackson and South 7th streets in South Philadelphia. Harmon’s husband, the suspect in the killing, was taken into custody on Nov. 26.
Mayor Jim Kenney held a press conference just hours before Harmon’s death. He blamed firearms for being behind the increase in violence and urged lawmakers to approve more stringent gun control laws. Kenney pointed at New York and Massachusetts, where there were larger populations but fewer homicides, which he attributed to stricter laws.
“It’s terrible to every morning get up and have to go look at the numbers and then look at the news and see the stories,” Kenney said. “It’s just crazy, and this needs to stop.”
His comments followed the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Jessica Covington, 32, was killed when unloading gifts from her vehicle after returning from her baby shower, according to police reports.
“This heinous crime has sent shock waves throughout the country and also highlights the intentional lack of regard that we are seeing for humanity,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement last week.