Shooting prompts Rittenhouse Square meeting on safety

RITTENHOUSE SQUARE (WPVI) -- It was a packed house at the Church of the Holy Trinity a week after a shooting in Rittenhouse Square. But that seemed only the final straw for residents and property owners concerned about a litany of issues at the park.

Here is just some of what residents were saying during Monday night's community meeting:

"What are we going to do about the crime that's infiltrating Rittenhouse Square and the park?"

"Rittenhouse Square has become free game. It's not just people smoking pot, there's people doing heroin, people doing God knows what."

"You go in there and it's almost like you're inebriated by the marijuana smell especially in the center of the park."

Then there's the problems associated with the growing homeless population, by officials estimate as many as 179 that have been identified.

"I walk that park, I've worked to get defecation up, I've worked to clean up all the benches that are constantly broken from the homeless," Betsy Hummel of Friends of Rittenhouse Square said.

For his part, Police Commissioner Richard Ross promised an increased police presence at the park 24/7 to address the use of drugs and other problems.

"I don't want people smoking marijuana across the street from my house, so you should not have to contend with that," Ross said.

Additionally, officials announced the formation of a task force made up of police, various agencies, and groups to tackle the various issues.

"Maybe come up with creative ideas of how we can be helpful and help solve some of these things cause right now, people are just angry and threatened since the shooting," Hummel said.

Police announced the arrest of a 17-year-old over the weekend in connection with last week's shooting and are working on an arrest warrant for a second person.

The victim continues to recover after being shot five times while trying to stop a robbery in progress.

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