A 10-year-old boy walking home from school was shot in the head while caught in the crossfire during a drive-by shooting in Northeast Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon.
The boy, who family members identified as "Semaj," was walking on Margaret Street near Torresdale Avenue around 3:15 p.m., about two blocks from Warren G. Harding Middle School in the Frankford neighborhood. Police said the boy spotted about five men between the ages of 25 and 30 who were standing on the corner. The boy walked up to one of the men.
"He shakes his hand," Philadelphia Police Capt. John Walker said. "We believe he knows the kid because his father lives right around the corner."
As the two greeted each other, a red Pontiac G6 pulled up near the group. An unidentified gunman in the backseat of the vehicle then opened fire. The car, which police released images of on Thursday, then drove off on Margaret Street, police said.
Surveillance video obtained by NBC10 shows the boy and two other men running for cover as the gunman fires shots. The boy was then struck in the head and fell to the ground.
One of the men, who police believe was the intended target, pulled out his own weapon, firing shots at the gunman in the car. The gunman in the vehicle managed to get away however.
Jahaira Cruz told NBC10 she ran out to help the boy after the shooting.
"I quickly grabbed someone's hoodie," Cruz said. "I don't know who's it was and I properly put correct pressure on the wound to try to get him to at least stabilize as best he could."
The boy was taken to the hospital where he was listed in critical but stable condition. Police also said the boy's family was nearby at the time of the shooting.
The Crime Scene Unit took the boy's bloody backpack in for evidence.
"That child that had nothing to do with it. That child that has a smile on his face," Marcia Fulton, who attends church with the boy's family, told NBC10. "That child that went to school this morning."
The intended target who fired back at the gunman dumped his weapon in a recycle bin, police said. That weapon was later recovered, however, and the intended target was taken into police custody. The gunman who shot the boy remained on the loose Thursday.
Police said the shooting was likely drug-related.
Extra counselors and support staff were on hand at Harding Middle School on Thursday to help students and staff, the School District of Philadelphia said.
The shooting comes amid escalating gun violence throughout the Pennsylvania city, including the death of a 2-year-old girl and the grievous injury of an 11-month-old boy.
Hours before the shooting, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced "expanded initiatives" for neighborhoods most plagued by gun violence, including intervention programs and rapid response outreach.
The programs would start in the spring, according to an emailed statement.