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Northeast Philadelphia community reeling after shooting wounds 8 teens near SEPTA bus stop

8 Northeast High School students shot | CBS News Philadelphia at 11 p.m. March 6, 2024
8 Northeast High School students shot | CBS News Philadelphia at 11 p.m. March 6, 2024 08:46

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Another Philadelphia community is reeling after eight Northeast High School students were shot near a SEPTA bus station Wednesday afternoon at Rising Sun and Cottman avenues.

The students were shot shortly before 3 p.m. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said one 16-year-old is in critical condition and the others are stable.

Holly, who works at Quaker Diner near the scene, said she ran outside and saw kids who had been shot lying in the street. She described a gruesome situation. 

"It's scary, and I can't believe it happened, to look down and see all these kids shot, lying on the ground, and it's raining," she said. "This one kid is sitting there, holding his one friend's head. He's on the ground, puddles of blood around him. He was pleading with his friend, saying, 'Keep your eyes open, stay with me, you're going to be OK.'"

Holly said she never worried about shootings growing up in the area.

Doris, who also works at the diner, said she tried to stay calm as kids ran into the restaurant seeking safety and to help them remain calm.

"I just don't know what these kids are thinking sometimes, killing each other, kids killing kids," she said. "I don't know, I guess for me, I'm just glad that my kids are out of school now and are adults, and I don't have to worry about something like this with my children, taking a bus home, just wanting to go home after school."

Sheena, who said her cousin's son was injured in the shooting, described a sense of hopelessness about the city's violence. 

"The crime rate in Philadelphia is just unpredictable. It's totally uncontrollable," she said. "I mean, I don't really think that there's a resolution to this. I really don't."

Sheena, who lives and works nearby, said she expects her relative to recover physically, but mentally, the aftermath will be more difficult.

"Through the grace of God and the prayers of our family, he's going to physically recover," she said. "But mentally, I know he's not. Because like I said, he's like an angel. Literally, no trouble at all. No street activity at all."

Roxanne Gambino Schroeder, who lives nearby, said she came running when she heard the gunshots. She said it was a chaotic scene.

"These are just children, and they have to realize that people aren't coming back in the next episode," she said. "What runs through my mind is, when is it going to stop?"

The shooting also shook community leaders who work with Philadelphia's young people. 

"I'm just sad right now, I'm just really livid," Councilmember Anthony Phillips, who represents District 9, where the shooting happened, said. "I'm hot, but I've calmed down a little bit lately and I'm just looking forward to seeing what we can do."

Philadelphia Councilmember Anthony Phillips speaks after shooting of 8 Northeast High students by CBS Philadelphia on YouTube

"I'm sick. I'm pissed off, honestly," Pastor Carl Day, of Culture Changing Christians, said. "And I'm frustrated."

NOMO Foundation CEO Rickey Duncan said he was feeling hopeful about declining crime in Philadelphia earlier this week. That changed Wednesday afternoon.

"I felt like we were moving forward, then this hits," Duncan said.

Speaking to reporters after the shooting, Mayor Cherelle Parker said, "Every law enforcement partner that we have here in the city of Philadelphia is actively engaged in working together to ensure that every resource that is needed is readily available so that the work can be done to solve the crimes."

"Now, this is what's extremely important to me as mayor of this city: That the people of this city know that we will not be held hostage," she added. "That we will use every legal tool in the toolbox to ensure the public health and safety of the people of our city."

Philadelphia officials give updates on 8 students shot near SEPTA bus stop in Northeast Philly by CBS Philadelphia on YouTube

At a press conference hours before the shooting, SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson shared a similar message, saying that his department will target "every criminal code on the books" after multiple shootings involving buses this week. A 17-year-old boy died Monday in the city's Ogontz section after being shot near a SEPTA bus stop.

Philadelphia police have released surveillance video of the suspects and are asking anyone with information to come forward.

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