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June 17, 2019

Shots fired at graduation party guests in Southwest Philly; one dead and five injured

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross called incident 'deeply disturbing'

Crime Shootings
Graduation Party shooting philly Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

At least eight people were shot while attending a graduation party in Southwest Philadelphia on Sunday night. One of those people, a man believed to be in his 20s, has died. Philadelphia police continue to search for the shooter.

One person was killed and five others, including four juveniles, were injured when shots were fired at guests attending a graduation party in Southwest Philly on Sunday night, Philadelphia police said.

The shooting happened at Paschall Playground near the 6900 block of Reed Bird Place just after 10 p.m. where police said a group of about 75 people were having a cookout, that began at 5 p.m., to celebrate several students' recent graduations.

During a press conference Monday afternoon, Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said the gunman opened fire into the group of partygoers from a nearby parking lot where he and two other men had been standing. 

Police confirmed Monday that Isiaka Meite, 24, died from a gunshot wound to the back. He was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and pronounced dead at 10:43 p.m.

Four teens between the ages of 15-17 years old also were shot along with one other adult, Smith said. None of those injuries are believed to be life threatening.

The gunman fired a 9mm handgun and after the shooting, he and the other two men are believed to have fled on foot across the park to a silver Nissan Rogue. Police pursued the vehicle briefly before returning to Paschall Playground to assist with those who had been shot, Smith said.

Police continue to investigate the motive for the shooting, and Smith said detectives are determining if Sunday night's incident is connected to another shooting near the park the week before.

During a briefing at the scene late Sunday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the was no incident among the graduation party guests that led to the shooting.

"There was nothing that suggested there was a fight that preceded this," Ross said, "at least according to the people (at the party)."

Investigators are looking for surveillance cameras in the area that may have recorded the incident or the suspects' vehicle. They also are continuing to interview witnesses.

"We need people's help. We know they get concerned and they get afraid," Ross said, "but at the end of the day, what happens without that help, it makes ... it far more difficult. Some of these people walk around brazen and bold enough to feel they can get away with it and do it again. And in some cases they will"

Ross called it "deeply disturbing" how a person could indiscriminately open fire at a crowd of people, a sentiment he reiterated during Monday afternoon's press conference.

"What is must take, the lack of regard for life that you can fire multiple rounds in a crowd of at least 70 people," Ross said. "How heartless must you be to pull the trigger that many times, knowing that would be the likely outcome? It speaks to a greater issue."

Sunday night's shooting in Southwest Philly marked the end to a violent weekend in city. All totaled, 26 people were shot, including six homicides, the Inquirer reported.

"People should not have to live like this worrying about gunfire. ... There are some who are so hellbent on firing guns and harming other people that they don't give a damn about doing that to you either," Ross said.

Below is video of Ross and Smith's entire press briefings about the shootings at the graduation party and about the overall violence in Philly during the weekend.