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West Philly rec center employee dies after being caught in crossfire of gun battle, police say

Philadelphia identifies rec center employee who died after being caught in crossfire of gun battle
Philadelphia identifies rec center employee who died after being caught in crossfire of gun battle 02:33

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A rec center worker has died after she was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle in West Philadelphia. It happened Friday afternoon at the Mill Creek Recreation Center at 47th and Brown Streets.

The 41-year-old woman was rushed to Penn Presbyterian Hospital but later died from her wounds.

A 14-year-old is in custody, according to police.

Shell casings could be spotted on the street and sidewalk across from Mill Creek Recreation Center in West Philly on Friday.

Police say a rec center employee was shot twice after she got caught in the crossfire.

"It's absolutely unfortunate," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. "Broad daylight. We are tired of it. Residents are tired of it."

The city identified the victim as Tiffany Fletcher and her friends shared this picture of her with CBS Philadelphia.

tiffany-fletcher.jpg
Tiffany Fletcher was an employee at Mill Creek Recreation Center in West Philadelphia. Friend of victim

Investigators say the shooting happened at 1:30 p.m. Friday on the 4700 block of Brown Street.

Terry Allice was working nearby. He helped the woman until emergency crews arrived.

"I saw her come running in and she collapsed on the ground," Allice said, "and so we just slammed the gates shut and I packed her wound with some towels. We kept the doors closed until we heard the sirens."

Many neighbors heard the steps of the shot away from their homes.

"Just knowing that we were this close to the shots," one neighbor said. "Those bullets could have come over here."

Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Kathryn Ott Lovell says the extra police presence added recently helped.

"The police have been great partners to us in ensuring that there is a presence in and around our rec centers," she said. "I think that's in part because you saw such a quick response today."

Mayor Jim Kenny released a statement 

"Words alone cannot express the outrage, hurt and sadness all of her colleagues feel tonight. I was beyond appalled to learn of this heinous and senseless crime that has completely devastated so many people, especially her family.

Today, like every day, Tiffany went to work at Millcreek Rec Center to serve the community and people she loved and serve as a role model for her children. Now, a family is left grief stricken, colleagues are in mourning, and a community is left to cope with this unimaginable loss. I share my deepest condolences with those who knew and loved Tiffany. To all of our City colleagues hurting tonight, please know that supports are available."

Police say since this did happen within close proximity of a rec center, there's a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

City councilmember Cindy Bass released a statement on the shooting: 

"In the middle of the afternoon of Friday, September 9, Tiffany Fletcher, an employee at Mill Creek Recreation Center died after being caught in the crossfire of a gunfight.

I offer her family and all who knew and loved her my sincerest sympathies. This is a tragedy that never should have happened and is absolutely unacceptable.

As Chair of City Council's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, I have long advocated for all Philadelphians to be able to have access to recreational facilities, parks and libraries that are comfortable, clean, and safe.

With this killing, along with the more than 380 homicides that have occurred this year, we are obviously missing the mark.

We want our children to have the opportunity to attend after-school programs and safely play at their neighborhood rec centers. We want our teen and adult residents to know they can have a little fun too, whether it's on a basketball court or any other playing field, without having to look over their shoulders in fear they might be the next victim of gun violence.

In June, City Council approved a $5.8 billion budget that included $73 million for the Department of Parks and Recreation and $200 million toward the mayor's initiative to step up gun violence prevention measures. I call on the Department of Parks and Recreation and other Administration partners to conduct a security needs reassessment and work with my committee to explore and develop legislative and other solutions to mitigate this violent scourge on our city's public spaces."

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