Someone shoots projectile fireworks at people experiencing homelessness in Kensington

Security footage taken from St. Francis Inn on Kensington Avenue and Hagert Street shows someone in a black sedan shooting fireworks at people on Wednesday night. (St. Francis Inn)

Someone in a black sedan shot projectile fireworks at people who were sleeping and standing on Kensington Avenue near the St. Francis Inn on Wednesday and Thursday night, according to security footage captured by the outreach organization.

Father Michael Duffy, a co-director and priest at St. Francis Inn, said that a staff member called the police during the first shooting on Wednesday night around 10:30, but the police never responded. On Thursday night, when the shooter returned, Duffy said that nobody called the police because “they’re not going to come.”

The shooter came through the area three times starting around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Duffy said. He described the onset of the scene as, “a barrage of fire-ball projectiles comes out of the car and aims at all our homeless people who are standing or sleeping on the sidewalk.” They also aimed for Duffy’s house, located across the street from the ministry, he said. 

Duffy, who has worked at St. Francis Inn for more than 30 years, said that this type of violence has not happened near the Inn in many years. About 15 or 20 years ago, people threw firecrackers out of their windows and onto his guests once, which burned one man’s face, he said. This incident, however, was different.

“This was a projectile-like gun,” Duffy said. “It looked like a war zone.”

Shooters are seen on a surveillance camera firing at one man sleeping in a tent. The man holds his tent in front of his face as a shield. The extent of the man’s injuries are unknown, as after the car drove away, he picked up his tent and left, Duffy said.

“They stopped the car and pelted him with these fireballs out the window, and then they kept going,” Duffy said.

The footage, which is graphic, can be seen below. 

If the shooter returns, Duffy said they have talked about driving to the end of the block to try to block the people on the street from the shooter’s car and taking pictures of the license plate. 

Liz Hersh, the director of the city’s Office of Homeless Services, said she was not previously aware of the incident, but described it as “absolutely horrible.”

As of Friday evening, the Philadelphia Police had not returned a Friday afternoon request for comment. 

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.


Editor: Jillian Bauer-Reese / Designer: Jillian Bauer-Reese / Translator: N/A

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