PHILADELPHIA — The park sat still and quiet Thursday morning. There were few signs of the gunfight that upended Clara Muhammad Square during an Eid al-Fitr celebration the previous day.

The pairs of shoes flung aside, the prayer mats left behind, the baby strollers abandoned in panic – all had been cleared out.

But at the Philadelphia Masjid next door, mosque members saw more to be done.

“The park is clean, yes, but it’s not about the park being clean,” said Mecca Robinson, who runs a youth services non-profit. “It’s about solutions.”

On what was supposed a festive day for Muslims as they gathered in the Parkside neighborhood by the hundreds to dine and unwind after the monthlong Ramadan fast, a barrage of at least 30 gunshots halted the celebration. Just after 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, laughter turned to screams, people ducked for cover behind trees and trashcans, and parents and children were separated in the chaos.

Five people who police say took part in what they described as a feud-turned-shootout were charged Thursday morning with reckless endangerment and firearms violations. Police identified one suspect as Kahbir Oglesby-Hicks, 21, but authorities have not identified the other four, who are juveniles. Department spokesperson Sgt. Eric Gripp said investigation was continuing as detectives reviewed video footage of the afternoon melee but because of the size of the crowd, found it difficult to discern who had fired the shots.


Two people were shot in the cross fire – a 22-year-old man shot in the stomach and a 15-year-old boy struck in the hand – while another 15-year-old teen was shot by a responding officer after confronting her with a gun.

In addition to Oglseby-Hicks, police arrested two 16-year-olds and two 15-year-olds, including the one who was shot by police. All remain in police custody, Gripp said. The police department does not typically identify juvenile suspects unless they are charged as adults.

Officers recovered five guns from those who were arrested, police said, along with another weapon found on the ground.

As investigators continued to review evidence Thursday, including officers’ body-worn camera footage and surveillance video from local businesses, they were working to determine whether any of the people in custody had taken part in the crime.

“Obviously it was a very large and chaotic scene,” Gripp said, “so we’re still combing through the evidence and imploring the public to reach out to our tip line.”

Leaders at Philadelphia Masjid declined comment Thursday, saying they planned to hold a news conference on Friday.


Sadja “Purple” Blackwell, a mosque member who is running for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, said those involved in the shooting were not known to the community. She said the annual Eid event attracts people from across the city – and no one is turned away.

“You can’t say, ‘Don’t come, we don’t know you,” she said. “But your beef needs to be handled another way. We need conflict resolutions (taught) in the schools to help these kids manage their trauma.”

Robinson and Blackwell joined dozens at the masjid on Thursday morning to try to make sense of a shooting that made international news. Gun violence has declined in Philadelphia, with homicides down 37% and aggravated assaults with a firearm down 18% over last year, according to police data. But events like this – especially involving juveniles – are a stark reminder of the work to be done, they said.

Shootings involving multiple juvenile victims have been steadily rising. According to police data, there was only one shooting that involved multiple juvenile victims in 2015, but that figure rose to 24 shootings in 2022. Roughly one of 10 people arrested on shooting-related charges is now a juvenile, records show.

Robinson, who runs a safe haven for at-risk youth, called for the city to fund more antiviolence and youth intervention programs. Such programs are not a replacement for stability at home, Blackwell added, noting that the community needs to support single parents and grandparents who are struggling to raise children.

“If we’re in our children’s bedroom, checking their beds, we know if they’re into some bad stuff,” Blackwell said. “We have to stop being scared of our children. We have to approach them a strong hand.”


Amid a surge of Islamaphobic incidents since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, news of Wednesday’s shooting shocked and saddened Muslims across the city.

Many mosques already hire security guards for Friday prayer services and throughout Ramadan, said Mohammed Shariff, 39, president of the Center City Mosque and a board member at United Muslim Mosque. Shariff said mosque leaders maintain a good rapport with law enforcement.

Beyond that, however, he leans on prayer.

“Islamophobia is a reality. Gun violence in the city is a reality,” he said. “But we ultimately pray that God protects us, and we take every measure we can to make sure our people are safe.”


Staff writers Ellie Rushing and Rodrigo Torrejón contributed to this article.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: