Five teenage boys were gunned down leaving a high school football scrimmage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of them has sadly succumbed to his injuries.
At about 4:30 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday afternoon, a light green Ford Explorer reportedly waited outside a junior varsity football scrimmage at Roxborough High School in the northwestern corner of the Philadelphia School District. Police say that when players began exiting the field, multiple people got out of the SUV and open fired on them. There are reports of five gunmen, all of whom are believed to be minors, firing anywhere between 60 and 70 rounds total. There may be a sixth individual involved as well.
Police have described it as a targeted "ambush," though they are uncertain about whom the shooters were targeting.
Four teens were wounded in the attack, all of whom played for Roxborough: A 17-year-old was struck in the arm and leg, a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old were both hit in the leg, and one 14-year-old had a graze wound on his ankle that was treated at the scene. None of their names have been released. All are reportedly in stable condition.
Unfortunately, Nicholas Elizade of Havertown was struck in the chest and was raced to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Elizade was reportedly a student at nearby Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences, which does not field a football team. So Elizade played for Roxborough instead.
He was just 14 years old.
Players from Northeast High School and Boys Latin Charter School also participated in the scrimmage, but luckily, none of them were hurt in the shooting.
Philadelphia School Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. declared himself to be "personally disturbed and quite frankly angry with this senseless act of violence."
"Certainly unacceptable gun violence like this does not help anything," Watlington added. "So we're always asking ourselves, 'How are the children?' And frankly, many of our children are not well."
Philadelphia police Deputy Commissioner John Stanford seemed similarly frustrated by the horrific violence that has lately ravaged the city.
"We keep having these same conversations day in and day out," Stanford said. "I don't know who is missing the conversation, but we just have to keep doing as much as we possibly can."
"The biggest piece of this — there’s a 14-year-old doing what students do, having football games at the end of the day," Stanford continued. "It's one of the things we encourage our kids to do."
The brother of Nicholas Elizade had more forceful words to describe the wave of violent crime in the city.
"My little brother's 14," he said. "And just hearing him get shot is just the worst feeling in the world. It's scary for the kids to go to school, it's scary for the kids to come outside. It's just a war zone out here now."
Police say they have no suspects or motive for the shooting. Just hours before it began, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney had signed an executive order banning guns from city recreation centers, playgrounds, pools, and similar facilities.
As of Monday, 400 people have been murdered in the city in 2022 alone, and 174 minors have been shot.
"Try and talk to your kids," Stanford suggested. "And again, if you know your kids are involved in something — even if you're not sure — have a conversation about what this means. Death is final."