Officials in Philadelphia are asking the public for information after two separate shootings in less than 24 hours left a 2-year-old girl dead and a baby boy in critical condition.
Politicians and members of law enforcement condemned the gun violence that affected the city’s children in a press conference Monday.
“This is a real scourge on our community, this violence, and we need to work together to try to address it,” said Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat.
Police are offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in each shooting.
“We can’t do this alone, and we need people to give us information,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
A candlelight vigil was held Monday in remembrance of 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera, who died after being shot in the head. Her grandmother describes her as an energetic child who had a full life ahead of her.
“She loved to dance and use makeup, play makeup,” Nikolette’s grandmother said. “She was only 2.”
Police say the toddler was in her mother’s arms inside a home in the Kensington neighborhood Sunday afternoon when a man on the street started firing through the windows and doors using an AK-47 assault rifle.
Nikolette’s mother and a man doing renovation at the home were also hurt by the gunfire. They were both taken to the hospital.
“I ran outside to see what was going on,” neighbor Keisha Carter said. “I will never forget that sight. There’s nothing really how to explain it.”
In a separate shooting that happened Saturday night, an 11-month-old boy was shot four times while riding in a car with his stepmother in the Hunting Park neighborhood.
He was hit once in the head, once in the chest and twice in the bottom. He is listed in very critical condition.
Police say the baby’s stepmother didn’t know he was shot until she pulled over about three miles later.
“When she exited the vehicle to remove the child from the rear seat, she noticed the child was bleeding profusely from the back,” said Capt. Nick Brown with Philadelphia Police.
Police believe both shootings were targeted, but it’s unclear who the intended targets were. Detectives are in the early stages of both investigations.