A heavily armed gunman wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire in southwest Philadelphia on Monday evening, killing four people and injuring two others, the police said.
A male suspect was taken into custody by the police just before 8:40 p.m., the authorities said, adding that they had recovered a semiautomatic rifle, a handgun and another gun in the alleyway behind the 1600 block of South Frazier Street.
The dead were all men, aged between 20 and 59, the police said. Two other victims, aged 2 and 13, were hospitalized and were stable, they said.
Earlier reports suggested that eight people had been shot and four were injured.
A second person who police believed had “picked up the gun and returned fire in the direction of the shooter,” was also in custody, Danielle M. Outlaw, the police commissioner, said at a news conference late Monday night.
“At this point, we don’t see a connection to any of the victims and in the shooter, so we’re still trying to piece it together and figure it out,” Commissioner Outlaw said.
Police officers, who were on foot, arrested the suspect in an alley, she said. The suspect was wearing a bulletproof vest containing “multiple magazines” and had an AR-style rifle, a handgun and a police scanner.
Commissioner Outlaw said she did not know whether the suspect was firing from the handgun or the rifle before he was apprehended but he was still “actively shooting.” She said the officers cornered the suspect, ordered him to show his hands, and then arrested him.
“Thank God our officers responded as quickly as they did. I can’t even describe the level of bravery and courage that was shown,” she said.
The commissioner said she believes all of the victims were on the street, either outside or in a vehicle, when they were shot.
About 50 spent shell casings were found in the crime scene, which covers a two-by-four-block area, the commissioner said.
According to the police, an officer heard gunfire in the Kingsessing neighborhood just before 8:30 p.m. and found at least one victim near South 56th Street and Chester Avenue.
Katherine Gilmore Richardson, a member of the Philadelphia City Council, said on Twitter that she was “deeply saddened to learn of the mass shooting that took place this evening.”
In a statement released on Monday evening, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers called on elected officials to act on gun reform.
”Again and again, the devastation wrought by the scourge of gun violence continues to rip families apart and leave communities shattered,” Jerry Jordan, the president of the federation said in a statement.