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After shooting interrupts Eid al-Fitr celebration in West Philadelphia, a community is asking why

Shooting at Eid al-Fitr celebration in West Philadelphia leaves 3 injured, 5 suspects in custody
Shooting at Eid al-Fitr celebration in West Philadelphia leaves 3 injured, 5 suspects in custody 07:39

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Trash, chairs, a stroller, baby dolls and coolers were just some of the items that were left behind after people dropped what they were doing and ran for their lives during a shooting at 47th Street and Wyalusing Avenue in West Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon.

The shooting left three people injured, and five people were arrested, police said. All of the victims are in stable condition, according to police.

"I was like, it's just another beautiful day and gunshots started ringing and you could see the gun smoke because it was very close," Fareed Abdullah, who witnessed the shooting, said.

"It was scary. I am still shaking. I am nervous. I am really nervous," one witness said.

Witnesses said as the bullets were flying around them, they tried to take cover, especially since they couldn't tell where the bullets were coming from.

Amid the chaos, witnesses said kids were getting separated from their parents.

"The kids were running. A little girl ran across the street and got hit by a car. It was a lot going on," a witness said.

"I thought it was fire crackers. I said, 'Woah.' Everyone was trampling over each other, falling all over the place," another witness said.

One young boy posted a message on the Citizen app shortly after the shooting.

"This is scary because I almost got shot," he said. "This is like trauma to me. It just keep happening. I don't know why or anything. It just keep happening."

Clara Muhammad Square, where the shooting happened, was packed with people and vendors celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Philadelphia Masjid overlooks the park.

They were praying for peace and unity until the shooting happened.

"We don't want violence. We are trying to promote happiness," a witness said.

Police could be seen canvassing for evidence and shell casings. Many people stood on the outskirts of the massive crime scene in disbelief.

"Why, at this scene, would something happen when we came for peace and unity? Why would someone want to come up and do that?" a witness said.

Grief and trauma counselors were at the scene to help the families and those who were at the event process everything that happened.

Director of city's Office of Muslim Engagement worships nearby

Imams across the city are working with the Office of Muslim Engagement, hoping to calm tensions among Philadelphia's youth. 

"Safety is a big part of how we live," Director of Muslim Engagement Quaiser Abdullah said.

Abdullah said for decades he has been worshipping at a location down the street from Philadelphia Masjid.

"This is my community. I have been worshiping right behind you at Masjid Quba for the past 20 years," Abdullah said. "We have also in the past held our services in the park where the shooting took place."

Community leaders say youth need more support

Many community leaders are burdened by the gun violence in Philadelphia and said guns are too often in the hands of the city's youth. Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said the shooters were primarily juveniles. 

An officer came face-to-face with a 15-year-old boy who was armed with a gun. The officer shot the boy in the shoulder and leg and then transported him to the hospital, police said.

"You can't make excuses for all of these kids, some of them are out here actively engaging in gunfire, actively wanting to be involved in shootings," Bethel said.

The shooting reinforces the importance of supporting the youth, advocates and officials said.

"This also showcases how imperative that we figure out what's going on with young people. That we do more to keep them away from guns and that we help them to better manage conflict," Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said.

"We heard there was a 15-year-old out here," Thomas Allen, of Urban Nerds Foundation, said. "Those are the children that I want. We want to develop those children before it gets to this point and we have to do more."     

Leaders also said they were disturbed that the shooting happened during a religious gathering. 

"It really crosses the line," 6th Ward leader Pete Wilson said. 

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