The Battle of Germantown occurred on October 4, 1777, during our War of Independence. After capturing Philadelphia, British General William Howe ordered a sizable force to hold Germantown, which was then not a part of Philadelphia.
General George Washington attacked the British forces in Germantown, but even with the element of surprise and a good showing by his Continental soldiers, Washington’s army was routed. It was a bloody battle with many soldiers on both sides killed and wounded.
The second Battle of Germantown occurred at 11:30 pm on December 30, 2021, on Germantown Avenue. A group of men exited a white van and began shooting at people on the street in the residential neighborhood. Someone in the crowd returned fire.
According to Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small, five men and one woman were rushed to the hospital. The woman, who was shot multiple times in the chest and stomach, was listed in critical condition. Some have speculated that she was the shooters’ target.
“She may be the intended target due to the fact that she was hit so many times,” Small told reporters on the scene. “But as we found over 65 spent shell casings, it’s hard to even say who’s the intended target and who was struck by stray.”
Later, the estimated number of gun shots fired was raised to 87. Thankfully, no one was killed, as the shooters hit more parked cars and walls than people. Still, the brazen gun battle, which was captured on video, resonated across the city.
“It looked like a warzone,” one cop who was on the scene after the shooting told me. “The street and sidewalk were littered with brass from the bullets. It looked more like Baghdad than Philadelphia. These thugs ought to be locked up for good.”
“It was like the Wild West,” another cop said. “It was like the Gunfight at the OK Corral. It’s amazing that a lot of people weren’t killed by these wild-ass, gun-slinging cowboys. I’m glad no kids were shot. I feel so bad for the good people who live here.”
“Stop pointing fingers,” City Council President Darrell Clarke told a reporter. He added that everyone had a role to play in preventing violence like the scene in Germantown. He said that the district attorney, the police commissioner, and the court system need to figure out how to stop it.
But perhaps some finger pointing is appropriate. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner was sworn in for his second term as DA on January 3rd. At the press conference afterward, Krasner did not mention the Germantown shootout. He said that during his next term as DA he plans to invest heavily in violence prevention, as opposed to prosecuting criminals vigorously, which he called derisively, “traditional prosecution.” He said the only true justice was to stop homicides before they happen.
“It will be an effort to heal, to address the trauma, to stop the hurt as best we can for the whole block, the whole area,” Krasner said. “Not just that one family, but everyone who has been so terribly affected by this.”
According to Krasner, it takes a village to grieve.
Krasner went on to say that he has taken steps to support families of homicide victims, such as offering grief counseling, help with funeral arrangements, and providing other support in the first 45 days after a homicide, which is all well and good. But I suspect the victim’s family would also like the murderer of their loved one prosecuted and shipped off to prison.
It is well known that Krasner is a prosecutor who does not like to prosecute — except perhaps for cops. In criminal circles, Krasner is known affectionately as ‘Uncle Larry,’ and ‘Let ‘Em Loose Larry.’
In a year of extreme gun violence and murder, in which the Philadelphia Police Department recorded 562 murders, many point their finger squarely at Krasner and his policies.
Although liberals are quick to call for more gun controls after every shooting, I doubt that the guns used in the Germantown gunfight were properly purchased and legally owned and carried by the shooters. Chances are they used illegal crime guns. As there are already many laws against carrying and using illegal firearms while committing a crime, new gun laws are certainly not the answer to ending gun violence and murder.
The answer, as many former and current law enforcement officers have told me over the years that I’ve been covering the crime beat, is to target the high crime areas and arrest, prosecute and imprison the gun-toting criminals who are causing Philadelphia to be called ‘Murder City.’
Paul Davis’ Crime Beat column appears here each week. You can contact him via pauldavisoncrime.com