Children caught in crossfire of Philly’s latest gun violence | The Triangle

Children caught in crossfire of Philly’s latest gun violence

As a string of shootings are happening in West Philadelphia, more city blocks and neighborhood streets are becoming crime scenes. (Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Robertson for The Philadelphia Inquirer.)

The death of 11-year-old boy Ayyub Leach on Monday, Nov. 11 marked the most recent case of children being affected by gun violence in the city of Philadelphia. Over the past few weeks, at least eight children have fallen victim to gun crimes — the majority of the attacks being fatal.

During the early hours of Nov. 11, residents on the 5700 block of Haddington Lane reported a single gunshot fired. That gunshot came from the Leach household, where 19-year-old Nikeem Leach reportedly shot his 11-year-old brother, Ayyub, in the chest, almost instantly killing him. Nikeem rushed outside moments later, knocking door-to-door for assistance. As soon as a neighbor called the police, the teenager fled the scene, only to be found by the police blocks away.

Police immediately rushed an unresponsive Ayyub to Lankenau Hospital as they arrived at the crime scene. Despite their efforts, it was already too late. Ayyub was pronounced dead at 12:25 p.m. During a press statement, acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter commented that the motives of the crime are still unclear, as the only people in the house at the time of the crime were the two brothers.

When asked about whether the crime was intentional, Coulter claimed, “There’s always a chance it’s an accident. I mean we don’t have any indication… I would like to believe it was an accident but it doesn’t change the results.”

After Nikeem Leach was brought into custody, he was charged with involuntary manslaughter, violation of uniform firearm act: no license and violation of uniform firearm act: on the street.

Just days before on Nov. 8, Ernest Richardson and his 10-year-old nephew Semaj O’Branty were walking home after school in Frankford when they were fired upon. Semaj was shot in the head, immediately dropping on the ground as he struggled to maintain consciousness.

Richardson reportedly fired back, engaging in a shootout that nearly killed his nephew. Reports from the Philadelphia Inquirer claim that after being rushed to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Semaj is fortunately in stable condition. Richardson has since been charged with reckless endangerment of another person and other gun possession related offenses.

Unfortunately, Semaj and Ayyub are not the only cases of children in Philadelphia being killed or nearly killed by gun crimes. Prior to both incidents, a 7-year-old named Leslie Holmes Jr. was killed by Maurice Louis, his 28-year-old half-brother on Oct. 30. Another case involved 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera being fatally shot on Sunday, Oct. 20, when a gunman fired into her home from outside. These are all unfortunate cases, and it is worth pointing out how recently all of them have occurred.

The question now becomes whether those in power in the city of Philadelphia will respond to these gun-related tragedies now that the crimes are affecting perhaps one of the most vulnerable parts of the population. During Commissioner Coulter’s press statement on Ayyub Leach, she lamented over the sudden surge of child involvement in armed crimes, claiming it to be the first time in her career that this many incidents have occurred in such a short period of time.

“It’s just one more glaring reason why people who shouldn’t have guns, shouldn’t have guns. And that if you do have a gun that’s lawful, it should be locked, it should be separate from your ammo, and these situations are preventable. They should never have a gun in the house where there’s a child where it’s not protected or secured. So whether the gun is lawful or otherwise, it’s absolutely preventable,” Coulter stated.

Though city leaders such as Christine Coulter and Mayor Jim Kenney have expressed sympathy towards the tragic crimes, they have yet to take action towards combating the rampant gun violence in Philadelphia.