PHILADELPHIA — Police are seeking a 16-year-old youth in last week’s ambush shooting outside a Philadelphia high school that killed a 14-year-old and wounded four other teenagers after a scrimmage
Police said Tuesday that the 16-year-old is wanted on active arrest warrants for a charge of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder as well as criminal conspiracy, theft, obstructing justice, evidence-tampering and firearms offenses. He should be considered “armed and dangerous,” police said.
The teenager is the first suspect identified since five people jumped from a parked sport utility vehicle Sept. 27 and opened fire on teens walked away from an athletic field at Roxborough High School. Nicholas Elizalde, 14, of suburban Havertown, was killed and three other teens were rushed to a hospital. One was treated at the scene
The shooting drew national attention around the U.S. amid a stream of mass shootings that have become chillingly commonplace amid the nation’s staggering murder rate. It also came just after Philadelphia surpassed 400 homicides for the year, only slightly behind the pace of last year’s toll, which ended up being the highest in at least six decades.
Police said the shooters appeared to be juveniles, and they were also seeking a sixth person who remained in the vehicle. They said one of the shooters chased a 17-year-old victim down the street, striking him with shots to the leg and arm, and tried to fire as he stood over the victim but the gun either jammed or was out of bullets.
At a late-afternoon news conference, police officials declined to say whether they believe the suspect was one of the five shooters or the getaway driver. Capt. Jason Smith said investigators are looking at seven other people — both teenagers and young adults — and believe “some or most” will turn out to be suspects sought in the crime.
The police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, urged those responsible to “turn yourselves in.”
“We know who you are, and you’re just delaying the inevitable,” she said. “And all you’re doing by hiding is continuing to re-victimize the families of those that you harmed and your very own as well.”
Smith said investigators were still trying to determine whether some incident such as a lunchroom dispute may have preceded the shooting, and whether the shooting was connected to any other shootings police are investigating.
Police have said Elizalde is not believed to have been one of the intended targets. The teens taken to the hospital were all reported in stable condition after the shooting.
Hours before the shooting, Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, had signed an order banning guns and deadly weapons from the city’s indoor and outdoor recreation spaces, including parks, basketball courts and pools. A judge has barred the city from enforcing that order, siding with a legal challenge citing state law barring any city or county from passing gun-control measures.
Outlaw said she was concerned about “an entire generation of children” beginning to believe that “street life is the only way to go” and that the way to settle a score was with a firearm.
“And what these kids don’t realize, unfortunately, is that some of the solutions that they’re coming with — they’re final,” she said. “This is the end for them. There’s no going back. They’re ruining their futures and they’re ruining families.”