“In 30 years of my career, I haven’t seen it like this before.”

Violence in Philadelphia is heating up, and kids are caught in the crossfire. Let’s make sure everyone in America knows about the people committing these horrific acts. 


The city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania is progressively getting worse when it comes to gun-related deaths and violence, and this year’s homicide rates are poised to topple the historic numbers of an extremely bloody 2007.

While large cities are often plagued by higher than normal homicide rates when comparing them to the rest of the United States, what’s harder to nonchalantly shrug off is when there’s a spike in violent deaths of children. These deaths are senseless and the community and its officials are feeling the magnitude of this recent spike.

The city’s violence that has been inadvertently corralling children into its mix was stirred up yet again this past Wednesday when a 10-year-old boy was shot in the back of the head while he was walking home from school.

Semaj O’Branty was gunned down when he was caught in the crossfire of two shooters. He’s the sixth child to be shot in about four weeks.


Semaj O’Branty, who is a student at the Sullivan elementary school, had dropped to the ground on the sidewalk when he was struck by the bullet. He was still wearing his backpack as witnesses rushed to cease the blood flowing from his neck.

Police say O’Branty was caught in the crossfire between a shooter in a red Pontiac G6 who escaped and the intended target of said attack, who was apprehended later that same day. Police released pictures of the car after obtaining surveillance video of the gunfire, which happened at 3:13 p.m. near where the young boy lives. There’s no report on the status of the search for the suspect occupying the red Pontiac at this time.

Semaj had undergone surgery on Thursday, the day following the shooting. He’s in critical, but stable, condition at the time and is expected to survive, but the incident adds to a troublesome list of recent shootings that have victimized children within the city.

Philadelphia’s homicide rate is exploding, currently on track to top 2007’s bloody numbers. (KYW Broadcast Screenshot)


The city has registered its highest number of homicides to date in 12 years, with an astounding 303 homicides thus far, which if staying on the trend set through the year will surpass 2007’s 344 murders.

It was the sixth time in 23 days that Philadelphia officers tended to a young child who had been shot. Before Semaj was gunned down on his walk home, there was 7-year-old Leslie who was shot and killed alongside his family in West Philadelphia. Before that atrocity, 2-year-old Nikolette was fatally shot while in her mother’s arms while they were inside their Kensington living room.


Prior to that slaying, 11-month-old Yazeem was shot four times while he sat in a car with his stepmother. Also, in October, a woman fatally shot her two daughters, Damaya and Maxilla, ages 4 and 10 months, as well as their father, before turning the gun on herself.

Damyrra Jones, who admittedly shot her children and their father, was charged with three counts of murder, two counts of endangering welfare of children and one count of possessing instruments of crime.

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Captain John Walker of the 15th District Philadelphia Police Department made a statement regarding the uptick in shootings of children.

“Kids rarely get shot like this. In 30 years of my career, I haven’t seen it like this before.”

The acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter had spoken recently WPVI on the recent incident involving the 10-year-old that’s in critical condition.

“Folks have just had enough. There’s never an excuse to open fire in an area a block from a school where kids are out there. It should never happen,” she said during the interview. 


Mayor Jim Kenney had called for stricter federal and state gun-control laws to help his city, and others like it, with the rising gun violence mere hours before the shooting of Semaj O’Branty.


Although, many politicians and second amendment advocates have argued that more laws on the books regarding gun control is a failed experiment, often citing cities like Chicago as being an example. Whatever the answer is in combatting and deterring our children from being victims of homicide and gun violence, we hope that the resolution is found soon.


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