Pregnant woman, unborn child die in suspected targeted shooting in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Crime Scene Unit investigators examine a car at the scene of a fatal shooting of a pregnant woman on the 6100 block of Palmetto Street in the Crescentville section of Philadelphia on Saturday. The child the woman was carrying also died, police said. (Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)
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Jeremy Roebuck and Diane Mastrull The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — As Philadelphia closed in on a new record tally for homicide, a pregnant woman and her unborn child were killed Saturday night in a shooting in Philadelphia’s Crescentville section that police say appears to have been a targeted hit.

The 32-year-old woman, who was seven months pregnant, was unloading gifts from a baby shower from a Kia Soul when she was shot in the head and stomach at about 8:30 p.m. on the 6100 block of Palmetto Street, in the Northeast, police said.

She was pronounced dead at Einstein Medical Center at 9:06 p.m., and the child nine minutes later, police said, releasing few other details. Authorities said they might identify the victim to the public on Monday.

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Although police did not update Philadelphia’s official homicide tally over the weekend, six fatal shooting since Friday have brought the total slain so far this year to 497 — a toll already 13% higher than on the same date last year.

With homicides taking place at an average rate of more than 40 a month this year, there is no doubt that the total number killed in Philadelphia in 2021 will exceed 500. This would be a grim milestone, topping the previous highest tally of 500 in 1990 when crack was newly on the scene and turf wars among dealers were raging.

The number of female victims has grown, and women make up a greater share of all those killed and wounded by gunfire, statistics show. In 2020, about 6% of fatal gunshot victims were female. This year, 11% have been.

“The person who did this couldn’t be more cowardly,” Deputy Commissioner Christine Coulter told 6ABC at the scene overnight.

Asked what the city could do about the continuing gun violence, Coulter said, “We can’t stop people who are intent on shooting somebody. … It looks like someone was targeting her.”

An investigation continued Sunday with Mayor Jim Kenney announcing that the city is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

“This news is deeply upsetting and heartbreaking,” Kenney tweeted, urging anyone with information to contact police by calling or texting 215-686-8477.

On Palmetto Street on Sunday, chalk marks showed where police had found bullet casings. Neighbors kept to themselves, but one resident, who asked not to be identified, fearing retribution, said, “It’s so sad.”

Another man, pacing the street, said he had headed to the area because he knew the victim from when they both attended Benjamin Franklin High School on Broad Street in the Spring Garden section.

“She was a good person,” the man said. “She didn’t deserve that.”

In all police said, six people — four men and two women were — were shot and killed in the city between Friday and Sunday. The fatal gunfire took place across the city, in Crescentville, but also in Port Richmond, Mantua, Mayfair and, twice in Olney

In the Mayfair incident, police said the intended victim of a robbery shot and kill one suspect and critically wounded another. They said three men, all armed, approached the victim in the 3200 block of Longshore Avenue at 12:15 a.m. Saturday to rob him. Their target, whom police said was licensed to carry a gun, fired at them. One suspect ran off, but another was wounded and a third died. Police said they had charged the wounded suspect in the case and brought no charges against the shooter.

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(Philadelphia Inquirer staff writers Anna Orso, Dylan Purcell and Craig R. McCoy contributed to this report.)
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