top of page


Lydia Baccino, Gabriel Helupka, Dan Flanagan, Jayde Dorland, Megan Khalife

Cameron Munoz, Senior Editor

July 4, 2023

Kingsessing Area, Highlighted by the Red Dashed Line, Located in Southwest Philadelphia[1]

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to Philadelphia’s law enforcement and citizens of southwest Philadelphia, specifically the Kingsessing area, as a shooter opened fire in several locations. Local police responded to calls of gunshots near 56th Street and Chester Avenue, where there were multiple victims. While at the scene, the authorities received additional calls reporting multiple gunshots near 56th and Kingsessing Avenue, where they discovered multiple bullet casings. While at the second scene, more calls came in of further gunshots heard on Frazier Street, where police were able to locate a suspect and pursue him on foot down Frazier Street through to Kingsessing Avenue and then to Springfield Avenue.[2] Police discovered another victim at their home, who, according to them, had been chased by the shooter.[3] The suspected perpetrator, who is now in custody, had an AR-15 rifle, a handgun, ammunition, and a police scanner.[4] The motive of this attack remains unclear, but the Philadelphia police assert that the suspect acted knowingly and intentionally.[5] A second individual in custody was in possession of a gun and is said to have “returned fire in the direction of the shooter.”[6] This attack comes days after a shooter opened fire during a block party in Baltimore, Maryland which left two dead and 28 injured,[7] and a shooting during celebrations in Texas, leaving three dead and eight injured.[8]

CTG is on HIGH alert for the safety of American citizens following a shooting in Philadelphia. They will very likely face an increased risk of unusual active shooter tactics, like indiscriminately targeting civilians in future mass shooting incidents within densely populated neighborhoods. The current motive for this attack is unknown, but law enforcement will be investigating this attack for any possible motives. This attack will VERY LIKELY inspire other individuals to carry out copycat attacks, LIKELY targeting residential areas with a high concentration of unarmed civilians. Future shootings will ALMOST CERTAINLY lead to mass confusion from multiple 911 calls with conflicting information, VERY LIKELY attempting to hinder an effective real-time law enforcement response.

On July 3, a 40-year-old male wearing a bulletproof vest carrying an AR-style rifle, a handgun, extra ammunition, and a police scanner shot and killed five local males and injured two children in the Kingsessing neighborhood of Southwest Philadelphia. The victims were aged two, 13, 20, 31,[9] 22, and 59, with an unidentified victim estimated to be between 16 and 21. At 2029 EDT, police officers responded to gunfire near South 56th Street and Chester Avenue to discover multiple victims. After attending to the victims, gunfire sounded near 56th Street and Kingsessing Avenue, with further shots heard at Frazier Street. Police located the suspect at South Frazier Street, pursuing him on foot while the suspect fired at them to an alleyway on Springfield Avenue,[10] where police apprehended him at 2040 EST.[11] A second suspect who directed gunfire toward the initial suspect is also in custody, with his weapon taken for evidence.[12] Police are yet to establish a connection between the two shooters.[13] The shooting involved an estimated 50 spent shell casings, with vehicles in the area struck by bullets.

Police transported several victims to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center before private vehicles transferred the remaining victims.[14] The two children are in a stable condition. Police are attempting to establish a motive behind the attack, identify witnesses, and the location of cameras in the area to gather further information. There is currently no known connection between the primary suspect and the victims.[15]

The shooting in Philadelphia will almost certainly renew continued calls for restrictions on assault rifles in the US. The suspect’s possession of a ballistic vest, firearms, and a police scanner will almost certainly result in public scrutiny over the ease of accessibility to dangerous weapons. Advocates will very likely stage demonstrations calling for an end to gun violence, likely confronting politicians who have blocked or hindered past legislative efforts. Politicians will very likely introduce new legislation on background checks and assault weapons, with a roughly even chance of attempting to influence pro-gun politicians to consider working on limited bi-partisan legislation. Community leaders will very likely encourage residents’ active participation in neighborhood watch, almost certainly aiming to engage communities in early threat detection and foster safer environments. They will likely cooperate with local police departments who will almost certainly increase foot patrol in residential neighborhoods, likely to reassure the safety of citizens and create effective responses to future shootings, like allocating additional financial resources to public safety. Residents will very likely express their concerns regarding the deteriorating security in Southwest Philadelphia, likely prompting families to consider relocation.

Active shooters employing advanced tactics for indiscriminately targeting civilians in densely populated areas will very likely pose significant challenges for law enforcement. Such incidents likely complicate law enforcement's effective effort to quickly locate and neutralize an active shooter within a large geographical area. Future instances of similar active shooter scenarios will likely create widespread confusion among 911 dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, and emergency management services due to the chaotic nature of the situation. Such confusion likely creates challenges in establishing perimeters, maintaining control over affected areas, preventing the shooter from expanding their operations, and locating an active shooter in densely populated streets. Active shooters will likely increase their use of police scanners, likely using them to monitor police response times before an attack. They will likely use the information gathered on scanners to attempt maneuvering and evading anticipated police responses, likely facilitating the spread of panic and future target selection.

Social media platforms will almost certainly circulate disinformation regarding future shooting incidents, very likely contributing to panic and an ineffective law enforcement response. Threat actors will very likely take advantage of active shooter situations to spread disinformation, very likely leading to confusion and misdirection of law enforcement resources and personnel. Law enforcement monitoring social media will very likely need to verify tips they receive from social media platforms, with a roughly even chance of a delayed response to an active shooter. Politicians will very likely call for social media platforms to increase monitoring of disinformation, with a roughly even chance of platforms introducing policies to contain disinformation.

CTG recommends that law enforcement increase the frequency of specialized training on evolving tactics used by active shooters, police responses, crisis management, situational awareness in chaotic environments, establishing perimeters for active shooters, and coordination among local, state, and federal emergency management agencies. CTG also recommends law enforcement agencies enhance their cooperation with communities through effective policing strategies. CTG advises law enforcement to study mass shooter incidents to identify tactics utilized by active shooters and develop response strategies to counter any growing tactic trends, such as using assault rifles, bulletproof vests, and police scanners to monitor law enforcement activity. CTG recommends police adopt delayed communication technologies or switch to secure channels when confronted with active shooter situations to deny them information. CTG strongly advises local businesses, organizations, neighborhoods, school districts, and community groups to adopt and engage residents with the ADD (Avoid-Deny-Defend) active shooter strategy rather than the “Run, Hide, Fight” method. Citizens should undergo training to prepare for future active shootings in densely populated areas, with organizations running ADD drills frequently so that community leaders and members are better prepared for future incidents. CTG recommends citizens contact emergency services immediately upon identification of an active shooter event. CTG recommends citizens refrain from posting information on social media as details can be misleading and hinder emergency response efforts. CTG recommends social media users refrain from posting pictures and videos of law enforcement responses, as these could provide details and aid suspects. CTG also recommends citizens only follow official guidance after active shooter incidents, as unofficial directions can increase the risk of harm. CTG’s analytical teams will continue to analyze and monitor any further developments on unusual active shooter tactics and work closely with CTG's OSINT team and Digital Targeter program to gather more information and warn the public in the event of an escalation of unusual active shooter tactics.

CTG assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH given active shooters’ unusual tactics and current trends of increasing mass shootings and the involvement of body armor, police scanners, and assault rifles. Residents of urban areas with high crime rates are at the most risk. Active shooter incidents will almost certainly continue, with a roughly even chance of increased frequencies throughout the summer months. There is a roughly even chance active shooters will resort to using deceptive tactics like fake targets and decoys to create confusion and divert law enforcement’s attention from their intended attack. Communities and law enforcement agencies in major US cities, and other densely populated areas, should be put on HIGH alert for an increase in these tactics that active shooters employ.

Analysis indicates that there is a HIGH PROBABILITY that tactics will continue to grow in sophistication by perpetrators, with a HIGH PROBABILITY that multiple locations and weapons will become commonplace. These tactics used will ALMOST CERTAINLY be an effort to add confusion during police response, hindering their response time and subsequent investigations. ​​Potential future active shooters will LIKELY view using multiple locations as a fear tactic, making its adaptability VERY LIKELY in future attacks.


[2] Five people killed, two children injured in Kingsessing mass shooting; suspect in custody, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 2023,

[3] 5 killed apparently at random in Philadelphia street shooting, police say, Los Angeles Times, July 2023,

[4] Philadelphia shooting: Five killed and two wounded after man opens fire, BBC, July 2023,

[5] Philadelphia police, mayor give update on deadly mass shooting, CBS News, July 2023,

[6] Philadelphia shooting: Five killed and two wounded after man opens fire, BBC, July 2023,

[7] Two dead, 28 injured in Baltimore block party mass shooting, police say, NBC News, July 2023,

[8] At least 3 dead, 8 injured in shooting during celebration in Texas, NBC News, July 2023,

[9] 5 killed apparently at random in Philadelphia street shooting, police say, Los Angeles Times, July 2023,

[10] Five people killed, two children injured in Kingsessing mass shooting; suspect in custody, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 2023,

[11] Philadelphia shooting: Five killed and two wounded after man opens fire, BBC News, July 2023,

[12] Five people killed, two children injured in Kingsessing mass shooting; suspect in custody, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 2023,

[13] 5 killed apparently at random in Philadelphia street shooting, police say, Los Angeles Times, July 2023,

[14] Five people killed, two children injured in Kingsessing mass shooting; suspect in custody, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 2023,

[15] Philadelphia shooting: Five killed and two wounded after man opens fire, BBC News, July 2023,


bottom of page