Fifteen people were killed and 94 injured across 13 states as well as Washington DC
From the nation’s capital to Fort Worth, Texas, from Florin, California, in the west to the Bronx, New York, in the east, the Fourth of July long weekend in the US was overshadowed by 16 mass shootings in which 15 people were killed and nearly 100 injured.
The Gun Violence Archive, an authoritative database on gun violence in America, calculated the grim tally using its definition of a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people excluding the shooter are killed or injured by firearms.
The tragic bloodletting was recorded from 5pm on Friday until 5am on Wednesday across 13 states as well as Washington DC. Texas and Maryland both entered the register twice.
In one of the final catastrophes to mar the weekend honoring the nation’s founding, nine people were injured in a drive-by shooting in Washington in the early hours of Wednesday. The victims included two children aged nine and 17. All injuries were reported as non life-threatening.
Police said shots were fired from a dark-colored SUV at a house party in the north-east quadrant of the city shortly before 1am on 5 July. The SUV “fired shots in the direction of some of our residents who were outside just celebrating the fourth of July. It appears that the shooting was targeted”, said Leslie Parsons, the assistant police chief.
Hours earlier, Joe Biden issued a Fourth of July statement from the White House in which he lamented the “wave of tragic and senseless shootings in communities across America”. The president said he and the first lady, Jill Biden, “grieve for those who have lost their lives and, as our nation celebrates Independence Day, we pray for the day when our communities will be free from gun violence”.
Biden repeated his call for “meaningful, commonsense” gun control reforms including a renewed ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and an end to gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.
By the reckoning of the Gun Violence Archive, the US is on track for one of the worst years of mass shootings. The database has identified 350 such incidents so far this year and warns that should the pace remain steady through the second half of the year, the final total for 2023 could reach 679: about double that recorded in 2018.
The archive’s tally of mass shootings over the 4 July weekend involved incidents in: Washington DC, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland (twice), Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas (twice).
One of the youngest victims of the weekend was a 14-year-old boy who was killed early on Wednesday in a shooting at a fourth of July block party on Maryland’s eastern shore. Six others were injured in the incident in Salisbury.
Two people were killed and 28 wounded, including 15 children, in a mass shooting in Baltimore, Maryland, on Sunday. Videos recorded at the scene showed teenagers scrambling to get away from the gunfire. On Wednesday, police were still searching for the shooters, who were thought to have opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon.
Late on Tuesday, another outdoor party in Shreveport, Louisiana, exploded in gun fire, leaving three people dead and 10 wounded.
Tabitha Taylor, a local councilwoman, told CBS News she was livid.
“Now we are the victim of a mass shooting in our community simply because individuals decided to come in and disrupt a good time that individuals were having,” she said.
“A family event that has gone on for years in our community has been disrupted by gunfire because somebody decided to pull their guns and do this. Why, why?”
One of the injured was in critical condition, Angie Willhite, a Shreveport police sergeant, told reporters on Wednesday, adding that others who were injured were expected to survive. No arrests had been made.
“We are struggling with getting information from those who were present,” Willhite said. “We’re not getting a lot of cooperation. We’re going to hope for some quick and immediate cooperation that will lead us to the people we’re trying to find.”
The greatest fatality in a single incident over the long weekend was seen in Philadelphia, where five people were killed when a shooter wearing a bulletproof vest and bearing an assault rifle went on a random rampage on Monday night.
The youngest person to die was 15. A two-year-old boy was shot four times in the legs and a 13-year-old was shot twice in the legs. On Wednesday, both were listed in stable condition.
The 40-year-old suspect was arraigned on five counts of murder as well as charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons counts of possession without a license and carrying firearms in public, prosecutors said.
Philadelphia police identified the victims killed on the streets as 20-year-old Lashyd Merritt; 29-year-old Dymir Stanton; 59-year-old Ralph Moralis; and 15-year-old Daujan Brown. All were pronounced dead shortly after the Monday night gunfire.
Joseph Wamah Jr, 31, was found in a home early on Tuesday, also with bullet wounds. Investigators believe Wamah was the first victim killed but was not found by family members until hours later.