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Police searching for 3 suspects in connection with mass shooting near West Philly rec center

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police say they’re searching for three suspects in connection with Tuesday night’s mass shooting outside a West Philadelphia rec center that sent five people to the hospital. The shooting happened at the intersection of 57th Street and Westminster Avenue around 7 p.m.

Local leaders put on a united front on Wednesday to say enough is enough, including District Attorney Larry Krasner and Mayor Jim Kenney.

“This is about as serious as it gets when it comes to criminal activity,” Krasner said. 

As of now, police say they don’t have a motive for the shooting. But now, local, state and federal authorities are working together to put a stop to Philly’s surge in gun violence. 

On Wednesday, Kenney announced for any shooting near a rec center, school or library, the city will offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrest.

Police say the alleged shooters pulled up outside the rec center and started firing. 

After the shooting, police say the alleged shooters crashed a 2018 White Dodge Durango at Haverford Avenue and Farson Street. Three men were eventually apprehended, but another three escaped, Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said.

One of the suspects was caught in a house, another was found hiding under a car and the third was caught in a foot pursuit with officers, police said.

One of the suspects entered a nearby woman’s house.

“When I turned around that’s when I thought today’s the day I am going to be a victim. What do I do?” she said. 

She says the suspect asked her not to scream.

She says she somehow calmly made it to the front door and waved in the police, who were already arresting another suspect on her front yard.

“I thought ‘how do I play this smart and get back to the front door?’ I just pointed silently like he just went downstairs and my sister came down and we just rushed out of the house. Thank God police were outside my house already and they were ready and they just swarmed in and that saved my life really,” she said.

Those three men have yet to be identified, but Krasner said they’re all 22 years old. The suspects are charged with attempted murder, but two of the victims are in such serious condition that Krasner said they could die. 

If that happens, those charges could be upgraded.

Police say two people — a 16-year-old boy and a 21-year-old man — were shot in the head and are currently in extremely critical condition.

The other three males — a 17-year-old, a 25-year-old, and a 22-year-old — were shot and are in stable condition. 

Nearly 100 rounds were fired during the shooting, police said. 

Krasner said there were hundreds of kids playing basketball and football at the rec center at the time of the incident. 

Vanore said two of the weapons fired during the shooting were assault rifles. He added that there were four guns found at the crime scene near the playground and five guns found inside the Durango.  

Families who live along 57th Street feel like they’re living in a war zone.

“Something has got to give, something has got to give,” Carmela Truell, of West Philly, said. “Because Philadelphia, I mean, everywhere you go it’s problem. But Philadelphia is really getting out of hand.” 

Fear is growing in West Philly. Truell and her 8-year-old son, Yasir, walk on the same stretch of 57th Street where less than 24 hours earlier 100 shots were fired.

“It’s to the point where I just want to take my son and go,” Truell said.  

“It sounded like Beirut out here,” Jamar Muhammad said. “And I never been to Beirut, but it sounded like that yesterday.”

CBS Philadelphia: So like a war zone?

Muhammad: “Yes, exactly like a war zone.”

Muhammad was selling merchandise nearby when the shooting happened. Five victims just finished playing basketball at Shepard Recreation Center when they were shot in the drive-by shooting.

“We’re not giving up,” State Sen. Vincent Hughes, of Pennsylvania’s 7th District, said. “We believe in our people. We’re not giving up on our people.”

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