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Philadelphia Police Commissioner Addresses Soaring Gun Violence With At Least 102 Homicides Just Months Into Year

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A vigil was held in West Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon to remember 16-year-old Kahree Simmons, a young life ended abruptly by gunfire. Simmons was killed at Christy Rec Center last week.

A boy and girl, both 15, were also shot that night. They are expected to survive.

A town hall was held tonight in response to the recent gun violence.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw says when she first came to Philadelphia, she asked the district attorney to assign someone from his office to work full time with the police department to do real-time assessments on how so many criminals are being let back out on the streets after facing gun charges. This just went into effect in December, and the commissioner says it's time for everyone to step up.

The sound of gunfire is unfortunately a common disturbance in Philadelphia -- a noise many have become desensitized to unless you've experienced that gun violence firsthand, like the family of 16-year-old Kahree Simmons.

On Tuesday afternoon, Kahree's friends and family gathered for a balloon release. The 16-year-old was gunned down at the Christy Recreation Center last week.

The teen is just one of the 102 people killed in Philadelphia just three months into the year.

Tuesday evening, City Councilmember Allan Domb hosted a virtual town hall to address the city's public emergency where Outlaw joined in the conversation.

"We saw, like I said, an increase in the number of guns on the street. We took almost 5,000 illegal guns off the street. But what we found was that there were a lot of commonalities between our shooters, our victims of shootings, and areas around the fact that a lot of them had open gun cases," Outlaw said.

Commissioner Outlaw laid out a crime prevention and violence reduction action plan in June of 2020. But the pandemic, unrest and funding issues impacted this plan.

She added events like this town hall help curve the problem when the community gets involved, but they also need residents' support.

"The police are not the sole solutions," Outlaw said.

The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity will hold a news conference Thursday afternoon where they will lay out their plan to eliminate gun violence in Philadelphia. It will be held at 1 p.m. at Janes Memorial United Methodist Church at 47 E. Haines Street in Germantown.

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