56th Street and Springfield Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia, where some of the July 3 shootings occurred. (Google Street View)

Update July 10: Philadelphia authorities admitted a 911 dispatch error led police to the wrong address for the house homicide, apparently leaving the shooter’s first victim undiscovered for two days, until he went on his rampage.

An Independence Day eve shooting that killed five and left two children with gunshot wounds was Philadelphia’s deadliest single incident in over a decade, though the city’s gun violence epidemic regularly causes the equivalent of a mass shooting.

This tragedy was likely not a targeted attack but random, authorities said. It more closely matched mass shootings seen elsewhere in the nation; the suspect captured had an assault rifle and was wearing body armor. 

The tragedy shattered any sense of pre-holiday relaxation in Kingsessing as more than 50 shots rang out around 8:30 p.m. Monday night. 

“On what was supposed to be a beautiful summer evening, this armed and armored individual wreaked havoc, firing with a rifle at their victims seemingly at random,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Tuesday afternoon, according to the Associated Press.

After arriving on scene and beginning to help victims, police heard additional gunfire and chased down a person who continued shooting at them, Outlaw said, eventually cornering and capturing them. 

The five people killed represent the most deaths recorded in one shooting in Philadelphia since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking incidents nearly 10 years ago. Two additional people were injured by glass shattered in the seemingly random gunfire.

On the following day, the Fourth of July, the streets where the tragedy happened were empty and bereft of celebrations, The Inquirer reported, with a child’s bike left forlornly tipped over on one corner.

In general, Philadelphia’s gun violence epidemic has slowed slightly since the pandemic-aligned surge that brought the city to last year’s horrifyingly historic high. 

Over the first six months of 2023, homicides were down 18% versus last year (though still up 28% versus 2019), according to PCGVR, and shootings had dropped 20% — which still means over 900 people have been shot since Jan. 1. It is common for Philly hospitals to see “clustered arrivals” of shooting victims, even when there’s not a traditionally-defined mass shooting.

Here’s what else we know about the Southwest Philly mass shooting on the eve of the nation’s birthday.

What happened and where?

Just before 8:30 p.m. Monday night, police responded to 911 calls about a person with a gun and shooting on the 1600 block of 56th Street, according to a police report on the incident, which is between Chester and Springfield avenues.

A person was “shooting aimlessly at occupied vehicles and individuals on the street as they walked,” according to video and witness interviews on the scene, per PPD Inspector Ernest Ransom. 

“Everybody thought it was fireworks but … been around here about three years so I heard it enough,” a resident named Roger told the AP. “I looked out the window and seen a bunch of people running.”

After officers arrived, they discovered six people who had been shot “along an extensive scene,” per the PPD report. They began trying to help these victims, and sent six people to the hospital.

Officers then heard more gunfire and began a chase, as the person fleeing reportedly continued to shoot back at them. A second person reportedly picked up a gun and started firing toward the suspect.

Police confronted the suspected shooter a few blocks away, on Frazier Street, eventually taking them into custody without further incident, per The Inquirer. Shortly after midnight, officers were called back to one of the houses on 56th Street, where they discovered another person had been shot — they believe by the same person.

Who were the victims?

Friends and family have begun mourning their lost loved ones. All five people killed Monday night were male, four men and one boy. Most are thought to have lived nearby. They were:

  • Daujan Brown, 15
  • Lashyd Merritt, 20
  • Dymir Stanton, 29
  • Joseph Wamah, Jr., 31
  • Ralph Moralis, 59

“You took my son. You took my baby,” said Merrit’s mother Marie, telling 6ABC she couldn’t get back to sleep Monday night. 

The two boys with gunshot wounds, a 2-year-old and a 13-year-old, are reported in stable condition, as are a mother and a 2-year-old — the twin of the previous toddler — who were hurt by glass thought to have shattered when bullets shot through a car they were in.

What about the person who fired back?

That person was originally taken into custody but will likely not be charged. “When you are under fire in a mass shooting, there are rights to protect others and rights to protect yourself,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said, according to the AP.

Who is the suspected shooter?

Kimbrady Carriker, a 40-year-old man reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a police scanner along with an AR-style rifle and a handgun when arrested, was formally arraigned on murder charges Wednesday, according to NBC10.

After being charged with 11 counts, including murder, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment, Carriker is being held without bail, according to District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Some neighbors initially told news reporters they were surprised to hear Carriker was the suspect, while others said they’d known about a fascination with firearms. He

Though some Facebook photos circulated of him wearing woman’s clothing, he is male and identifies as such, according to a deep dive by The Inquirer, which also found he’d been estranged from family and was a “biblical extremist” who liked Tucker Carlson and had no sympathy for young Philadelphians who got involved in crimes and were eventually killed by gun violence.

He told authorities his July 3 rampage was an attempt to address the city’s shooting epidemic, according to The Inquirer.

Before going out and committing his deadly and random attacks, Carriker apparently left behind a will of sorts, according to the District Attorney’s Office, with instructions to distribute his few possessions and Southwest Philadelphia house.

The shooting was random?

From the start, police and law enforcement authorities searched for a connection between the shooter and the people killed or injured, and didn’t find any.

“This does not appear to be a whole bunch of people who knew each other very well,” DA Krasner told the New York Times at the scene, noting that this is a characteristic common of other mass shootings around the country. Nationwide, this year has already seen at least 348 such incidents — defined as four or more people shot at one time — according to the Gun Violence Archive.

How did leaders respond?

Elected officials mourned while expressing rage, sadness, frustration, and calls to address root causes. They also pressed for stricter regulations around who can buy and own assault weapons.

“I’m heartbroken for the families who lost loved ones and for all the neighbors traumatized in the wake of this shocking and disturbing incident. Philadelphia mourns with you,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “This country must re-examine its conscience and figure out how to get guns out of dangerous hands.” 

“The shooter was armed with an AR military-style assault rifle — a weapon designed for war. It was on the streets of Southwest Philly, mowing down innocent Philadelphians, because Washington for years has put the interests of the gun industry over the safety of Americans,” said Council President Darrell Clarke.

“We can’t allow this to become routine,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris, who said he visited the scene Tuesday morning. “We must do more to address the root causes of this violence. We must do more to get weapons of war off our streets. We must do more to provide mental health support for people who are struggling.”

Updated July 10