PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia is now experiencing the highest number of homicides since 1990, according to 6abc Data Journalism Team.
Mayor Jim Kenney's office confirmed that 493 people have been killed so far this year, which is 40% higher than last year.
The mayor's office said most of the victims were killed by gunfire and many of them were women and children.
In a statement Tuesday, the mayor said:
"As we work feverishly to slow the spread of COVID-19 and get our lives back to some sense of normalcy, we are doing the same with gun violence-our other long-running public health crisis."
The mayor's office also said that they're creating new crime prevention efforts and partnerships while adapting to a $750 million cut to the operating budget.
Mayor Kenney's full response and detailed plan can be found at the end of the article.
One of the latest murder investigations involves the killing of 24-year-old Ebony Kitchen.
She was shot and killed along the 5800 block of Rising Sun Avenue in Lawncrest.
Police said she was arguing with a male and female around 11 p.m. Monday when a gunman who was not involved walked up and shot her to death.
"About two minutes before being shot and killed, she was involved in a physical altercation with a female and a male. Then about two minutes later, another male who was not involved in the initial altercation walked up, and he clearly points a gun at her head, face-area, and fires from just a few feet away," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said.
Police said business surveillance systems and real-time crime cameras captured what happened.
"We found eight spent shell cases on the highway. Most of these shell casings were a few inches, some were just a few feet from where the victim was laying on the street and pronounced dead," said Chief Inspector Scott Small.
While the shooter is still out there, police said they have witnesses.
In another homicide, police said a 43-year-old man who was visiting family was shot dead on the 2300 block of North Cleveland Street in North Philadelphia around 10:20 p.m. Monday.
"When police arrived on location, they found a 43-year-old male laying on the sidewalk. He was shot in the face and multiple times in the left side of his torso," Small said.
He was taken to Temple University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Chief Inspector Small said detectives found 12 shell casings near where the victim was located.
"It appears that the shooter or shooters were standing very close to the victim when the shots were fired since the ballistic evidence is only a few feet away from where the victim was found," Small said.
Relatives told police the man was in the neighborhood because he visiting family when the shooting took place.
Police found surveillance cameras near the area and are hoping they will help with the investigation.
No arrests have been made.
Mayor Kenney's Statement:
"There are no words that can properly express the constant waves of heartbreak, anger, and anxiety we feel from the devastation our city has experienced in 2020. Philadelphians saw local shootings and homicides reach epic proportions-with our communities torn apart by violence. This came on top of the global pandemic that claimed over 2,300 Philadelphians' lives, an ongoing economic crisis, and a societal reckoning about systemic racism and the unjust treatment of Black people at the hands of police.
"The majority of the 493 lives lost to violence were taken by gunfire, and more than 2,000 people were shot overall. An alarming number of shooting victims were women and children, and those who survived were left with life-changing trauma and medical issues that create additional barriers to a full recovery.
"Not only have we lost precious lives, but I've heard from many community members this year that they've also lost a sense of security. More of us are on edge, wondering what will happen next. NO ONE should have to live this way.
"I want all Philadelphians impacted by violence to know that I share in your sorrow. I share in your pain. This is also true of everyone in our Administration. It is why we are doing everything possible to stem the tide of loss and save every life we can. As we work feverishly to slow the spread of COVID-19 and get our lives back to some sense of normalcy, we are doing the same with gun violence-our other long-running public health crisis.
"Even amid a year that forced the City to cut a record $750 million from our operating budget and make painful layoffs and cuts to services, we are realigning resources to strengthen our efforts to reduce the violence.
"The new Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice and Public Safety in the Managing Director's Office is unifying the work of the Office of Violence Prevention, Office of Criminal Justice, Office of Reentry Partnerships, and Town Watch Integrated Services to better partner with community members to lift up the great assets of every neighborhood and better align investments across departments with a focus on creating safer communities.
"Our programs, Group Violence Intervention, the Community Crisis Intervention Program, Targeted Community Investment Grants, and the Violence Prevention Partnership are adapting to these changed times, working even harder to help individuals find alternatives to violence, manage the trauma caused by it, and invest in grassroots programs to prevent it. Their work was stymied by the pandemic in some ways, but I assure you they are back on track for 2021.
"We are also investing in local, community-driven work to reform our criminal justice system as we repair the damage caused by decades of racism and inequality. That's only part of it. You can read more about our work under the Philadelphia Roadmap to Safer Communities here.
"In the meantime, please know that there are no rivalries in this work. There is only one team on the field. It is the community working with the City. The seats at the table are all the same size. The 'working in silos' is ending. This is a full court press.
"I know we all probably wish we could forget 2020 ever happened, but our Administration is boldly facing the realities before us, with all of the strength, grit, passion, and spirit Philadelphians are known for.
"We don't give up. We don't give in. We are determined to save lives and create peace. We will turn the page on this dark chapter in the history of our city, and we will write the new book together. I vow to be with Philadelphians every step of the way as we take on this challenge."