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September 21, 2023

City Council calls for hearing on 911 response times in aftermath of Kingsessing mass shooting

Police were dispatched to the wrong address after shots were fired on July 2; one man died. The next night, the alleged gunman killed four more people in the same area

Government Investigations
911 call times Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

City Council plans to investigate 911 response times following the Kingsessing mass shooting this summer. The attack left five people dead and four others injured.

City Council is calling for a hearing into 911 response times after police were dispatched to the wrong address following the first of two shootings allegedly carried out by Kimbrady Carriker in Kingsessing this summer. 

At Thursday's session, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier introduced legislation authorizing a hearing to explore ongoing issues at the city's 911 call center, including concerns about understaffing, mandated overtime and poor retention. It also would explore the results of the police investigation into the "unsuccessful" July 2 response, which saw dispatched officers rush to an address three miles away from the scene of a homicide. Carriker allegedly returned the next night and killed four other people.

Eight of the 10 councilmembers have sponsored the legislation. The resolution states that many 911 dispatchers "feel overworked, exhausted and underappreciated," which could have adverse effects on the call center's responses.

"Philadelphians need to know that when they call 911, they will receive help every single time," Gauthier said in a statement. "When the city fails to successfully respond to an emergency, neighbors lose faith in government's ability to keep them safe – making it harder for us to combat gun violence and eroding the progress we've made to rebuild the essential bond between the community and police."

The Kingsessing shootings began July 2 around 12:30 a.m., when Carriker allegedly shot Joseph Wamah, Jr. at his home on the 1600 block of South 56th Street. The 911 call center received reports of gunfire in the area, but officers went to the 1600 block of North 56th Street in Carroll Park instead

Carriker returned to the area on July 3, allegedly firing at least 50 shots at random near 56th Street and Chester Avenue. Four people – Lashyd Merrit, 20, Dymir Stantom, 29, Ralph Moralis, 59, and Da'Juan Brown, 15 — were killed in the gunfire and four others were injured, including three children.

Police arrested Carriker later that night in an alley on the 1600 block of South Frazier Street. He is currently facing multiple murder charges, but is receiving court-ordered mental health treatment before the case can go to trial.

Philadelphia City Council last held a hearing on issues with recruiting and retaining 911 dispatchers in 2020.

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