11 young people have been shot in Philadelphia this week

Two police officers stand on the sidewalk and in the street with a red caution tape across the street with cars in the background.
Eight Northeast High School students were shot at a SEPTA bus stop in Philadelphia. (Kyle Mazza / Anadolu via Getty Images)

Eleven Philadelphia students were shot at bus stops less than a mile from their schools this week in separate incidents that have sent shockwaves through schools across the city.

Eight of those students, all between the ages of 15 and 17, were injured by gunfire on Wednesday afternoon at the intersection of Rising Sun and Cottman avenues in Northeast Philadelphia at a SEPTA bus stop down the street from their school, Northeast High School, according to city police.

On Monday, Dayemen Taylor, a 17-year-old Imhotep Institute Charter High School student, was killed in a shooting that injured two other young people at a different SEPTA stop at Ogontz and Godfrey avenues.

The incidents were among four shootings this week on or around SEPTA buses, a setback coming as city data shows gun violence is declining overall in Philadelphia. Nearly 55,000 students use SEPTA to get to and from school every day.

Philadelphia School District Superintendent Tony Watlington announced in a statement Wednesday night that Northeast High, which educates over 3,200 students, would be going remote through the rest of the week. Watlington said an emergency crisis response team will be on-site at the school “to support our students with grief counseling and whatever emotional assistance they need.”

Watlington also dispatched counselors to Kennedy C. Crossan School, an elementary school across the street from Wednesday’s shooting.

Jayme Banks, the Philadelphia School District’s deputy chief of prevention, intervention, and trauma, told Chalkbeat on Thursday the emotional impact of the shootings has reverberated throughout multiple nearby schools and student populations. The district will be providing counseling services for four or five other schools this week in addition to Northeast High School, Banks said.

Some Crossan students were leaving their building and witnessed the shooting on Wednesday, Banks said. There were some George Washington High School students aboard one of the SEPTA buses who also saw the eight students shot.

“People are affected in many different ways, and it’s important that we give them the space and time to process all of it,” Banks said. She added that the “trauma is so pervasive that we have to pour our resources and supports into everyone. Every student, family, teacher and community member.”

In a press conference Wednesday night, Watlington said he was “just absolutely heartbroken and angry that innocent children walking home from school would be impacted by gun violence.”

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He said his office is “absolutely committed” to “improving outcomes” for students so that “when parents send their children to school, they can expect them to return safely to them.”

Kevin Bethel, Philadelphia’s police commissioner who used to serve as the district’s chief of school safety, said Wednesday “it is hard to sit here and see, in three days, 11 juveniles shot, who were going and coming from school.”

Banks said as the district and city plan a broader response to gun violence, “the impact has to be greater than therapy alone. We really need to pour [support] into our community so that everyone can heal together.”

Carly Sitrin is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Philadelphia. Contact Carly at csitrin@chalkbeat.org.

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