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July 07, 2017

Reports: Police now believe Philly paintball attacks were random

Authorities were investigating whether suspects targeted transgender people

Philadelphia Police officer cruiser Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A Philadelphia police car.

Philadelphia police thought it likely this week that a paintball attack in a West Philadelphia neighborhood targeted transgender people Thursday afternoon.

But officials are now calling the incident random, saying they were not convinced the attack was purposely aimed at transgender people in Kingsessing, according to multiple reports.

Police initially said that one or more suspects riding in an Infinity sedan stopped in front of the Morris Home, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for transgender people near 50th Street on Woodland Avenue, and fired at several residents on the porch. Three were hit and had welts showing on their bodies from the paintballs, according to police.

After that attack, the car made a U-turn and the suspects fired on more people walking down the road, according to 6ABC.

About a half-hour earlier, two residents walking down 42nd Street had been hit with paintballs coming from the Infinity. 

"One of our victims at 42nd Street, clearly said to us, he heard people laughing in the car that they were firing the gun," Police Lt. John Walker said in the 6ABC report. "Although they think it's funny, it's really not funny what they are doing. And we know it is people out there. It's a nice car. ... Somebody knows who's driving this car, and all we are asking them to do is call 911."

Police are not certain that transgender people were specifically targeted, but they are investigating under that presumption, according to the report.

While police now believe the incident to be random, Thursday's attack was the third in recent weeks against transgender people in the neighborhood. 

A couple of residents at the Morris Home told police earlier in the summer they believed a neighboring resident walked by the facility and threw an M-80 on the porch, where they were sitting, according to an earlier 6ABC report. An employee of the home also had fireworks thrown at her while she waited for a trolley, police said.

Officials are looking for a silver Infinity sedan with silver window trim and a Pennsylvania license plate bearing the letters "KJ," according to Philly Mag.

Resources for Human Development, which runs the Morris Home, reportedly said in a statement that "RHD is committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of the people we are privileged to support and employ."

Anyone with information is asked to call police.