At least seven people, including a 2-year-old girl and five teenagers, were wounded in a shooting Thursday evening in the US state of Pennsylvania, reports cited local police as saying.
The incident took place near an elementary school in the Philadelphia city’s Strawberry Mansion section, the city police chief Danielle Outlaw told a news conference.
The gunfire erupted shortly before 6 p.m. local time (2300 GMT) just a few hundred feet away from the school, but Outlaw said the incident did not appear to have started there.
"As a parent myself I understand the fear that people have," Outlaw was quoted as saying.
The most seriously wounded victim was a teen listed in critical condition, she said, who was shot twice in the chest and twice on the right side of his body.
A 2-year-old girl and her 31-year-old mother were both wounded in the shooting. The toddler was shot in the left thigh while the mother was shot twice in her left thigh. Both were later admitted to a local hospital.
The Philadelphia police say they are searching for three suspects and a vehicle wanted in connection with the shooting, which comes amid a rise in gun violence in the country.
"We're constantly working around the clock to ensure what we're doing is effective and not just throwing bodies at a situation," Outlaw said.
Jerry Jordan, the president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, in a statement, said the devastation caused by gun violence "continues to traumatize our communities".
"It should be unfathomable that outside of one of our schools, as an event was letting out, six people--including a toddler and four teens--were shot. But of course, it is anything but unfathomable. It should horrify us all, but it should shock none of us," read the statement.
Firearms injury is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 24 in the US, according to reports.
According to a study by the International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, mass shootings in the US account for 73 percent of all incidents and 62 percent of all fatalities in developed countries, more likely involving “foreign-born perpetrators, ideological motives, fame-seeking motives, schools, open spaces, and handguns”.
A JAMA Network Open Study report states that since 1990 more than one million people have been killed due to firearms in the US.
Pertinently, the US is the only country with more civilian guns than the population – 120 guns for every one hundred Americans – as per the Small Arms Survey (SAS), as per a Swiss research project.