Gun violence surge: ATF launches 'Crime Gun Enforcement Team' in Philadelphia

The ATF has created a Crime Gun Enforcement Team in Philadelphia.

Maggie Kent Image
Saturday, July 24, 2021
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With more than 1,200 people shot in Philadelphia this year, the gun violence crisis has garnered the attention of federal agencies, local leaders and city residents.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With more than 1,200 people shot in Philadelphia this year, the gun violence crisis has garnered the attention of federal agencies, local leaders and most of all city residents.

So what's being done to stem the tide?

ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas rode along with Philadelphia police Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

He was there at Pat's King of Steaks shortly after 36-year-old Paul Burkert of Reading, Pa. allegedly shot and killed 23-year-old David Padro of Camden, New Jersey.

Police say the killing happened after an argument over a parking spot.

In an exclusive interview, Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said crime data is driving their distribution of resources.

"We know its a small group of people that's driving a lot of, the larger proportion of our crime city-wide," said Commissioner Outlaw.

She says more officers can be found in high-crime neighborhoods.

"It doesn't mean that we're neglecting the rest of the city, it means these areas are driving the numbers," she said.

In an effort to garner more resources, Congressman Dwight Evans sent letters to Mayor Jim Kenney and President Joe Biden on Friday.

"We have an epidemic. We have a crisis," said Congressman Evans.

On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a crackdown on five high gun supply areas. That list excluded Philadelphia.

Congressman Evans wrote the president to encourage additional ATF focus in Philadelphia.

"We must be sure that this city gets all the resources and efforts it needs," said Evans.

RELATED: Philadelphia officials call for stronger action to combat rise in gun violence

The ATF has created a Crime Gun Enforcement Team in Philadelphia. It's part of an "All Hands on Deck" initiative with Philadelphia Police, regional FBI, ATF and the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

That crackdown program started in early April.

The ATF tells Action News that because of this new enforcement team, the time it takes to connect bullet casings fired at crime scenes to crime guns recovered has been cut down from months to days.