An African American woman who was fatally shot on Tuesday night in an apartment near Philadelphia’s train station turned to be the 500th homicide victim in the city in 2021, police said.
The woman, 49, was found by police conducting a welfare check at her apartment on an upper-income neighborhood block, Philadelphia police commissioner Richard Ross said.
Ross said that when officers arrived, a gun was in her hand. She pulled out another gun, and was shot to death by police. He declined to comment further as the police department investigated the killing.
Police were investigating whether she lived alone, or had been visiting friends. Police had not confirmed whether she had a gun permit.
Although police did not identify the woman, the Philadelphia Inquirer said the crime scene was located in a relatively new building across the street from the Locust Street station.
On Thursday, Philadelphia police released their 500th homicide of the year, and added that in 2018, a total of 762 people were killed in the city. In 2017, 650 people were killed.
The mayor, Jim Kenney, said that out of every 500 homicides, 32 were of African Americans.
“It means that a majority of them were black,” he said. “It means that you need to be doing something, to keep your children alive.”
But another way to look at it is that in 2017, when 675 people were killed, 51% of those people were black, he said. Kenney said the city and police department had adopted “all kinds of tools that we weren’t doing four years ago”.
“Right now, if we take these steps, we’re going to get more and more positive results,” he said.
Ross said the use of body cameras helped police uncover an investigation into how the first five homicides of the year happened.
“The list really begins and ends with the oversight and accountability that being on a body camera provides,” he said.
A video camera showing the moments police shot the woman was not working and the audio was not working, Ross said. Investigators were continuing to review evidence.
Ross said he didn’t know what sparked the shooting but said he was surprised police didn’t shoot the woman when she pulled out the gun.
“I got to applaud the individual police officer, because what he saw at that time was really, from what we see with the video, someone who she could not be prevented from ending up dead because of it,” he said.