Philadelphia politician ‘stunned’ by recent shootings looks to combat gun violence

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Philadelphia politician ‘stunned’ by recent shootings looks to combat gun violence

A 2-year-old girl was shot dead in her home one day after an 11-month-old boy was shot and critically injured in a car in two horrific crimes that are rocking Philadelphia this week.

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“I was stunned,” Pennsylvania State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell told ABC News on Tuesday, calling it “really hard for me to even process.”

“Just thinking about what these families are suffering through… I know that pain,” she said. “My heart weeps for those families.”

Johnson-Harrell’s 18-year-old son, Charles, was shot to death in 2011.

“The worst thing in the world you have to do is bury a child. It’s unnatural,” Johnson-Harrell said.

Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell speaks about the change of the face of power in the United States after a history making number of diverse members were sworn into Congress the past election in Philadelphia,July 13, 2019.

As police work to solve both shootings, Johnson-Harrell is pushing forward in her work to combat gun violence.

There have been 1,190 shooting victims in Philadelphia so far this year, said police. There have been 280 homicide victims in Philadelphia so far this year, up 4% from the same time period last year, according to police.

She is aiming to reinstate a pilot program used from 2013 to 2015 in which positive peer pressure and social services were brought together in a way that she said managed to reduce gun violence in the city.“”I worked with some of those young people who put down the guns and changed their lives.

First, “those who are more likely to kill or be killed” are identified through parole and probation and brought in to be dissuaded from violence, Johnson-Harrell said.

Second, the model addresses social factors, including poverty and a lack of jobs and education, by offering access to drug and alcohol treatment, mental health treatment, education and job training, she said.

Johnson-Harrell said the state’s house and senate have “made a financial commitment” to the new program and now the city must determine how it could be initiated.

“We’re waiting to see what the city does,” she said, adding that the mayor and the managing director’s office have fully committed to being part of the solution.

“I worked with some of those young people who put down the guns and changed their lives,” she said. “I’m grateful that the house, the senate and the city have all agreed that we’re going to do this.”

Police are still searching for the gunman who shot and killed 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera in her North Philadelphia home Sunday afternoon.

Nikolette was in her mother’s arms when bullets came through the wall and hit her in the head.

A gunman had fired an automatic rifle through the front of the house, leaving six bullet holes, said police.

Her mother and another person in the home were injured, said police.

Authorities said it is “safe to assume” the house was targeted, but a motive is not clear.

“If you have a child don’t forget to tell them how much you love them, ” Alex Montanz, a cousin of Nikolette, told ABC Philadelphia station WPVI.

Nikolette’s death came one day after an 11-month-old boy, who was in the back of a car in Hunting Park, was shot four times, including in the head and neck.

WPVI

Police officers respond to the scene where an 11-month-old was shot four times in Philadelphia on Oct. 19, 2019.

He is in “very, very critical condition,” Capt. Nicholas Brown of the Philadelphia Police Department said Monday.

He has no chance for a full recovery and if he survives he most likely will be a quadriplegic, Brown said.

No arrests have been made in his shooting, either.

WPVI

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter speaks at a news conference after two children were shot in the city, Oct. 21, 2019.

“These scenes should not continue to happen in our city … we have to do better,” Police Commissioner Christine Coulter said Monday. “Please help us start reducing this violence and keeping our children safe.”

A $30,000 reward has been offered for information that helps solve either of the shootings. Anyone with information can call the tip line at 215-686-TIPS.

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