Penn Police discovered nine bullet casings on the 4100 block of Pine Street Tuesday morning, following investigations of gunfire reported in the area at about 12:45 a.m.
All nine casings were 9mm semiautomatic shells, Division of Public Safety Vice President Maureen Rush said, adding that no suspects have been detained as of now.
Penn Police, Philadelphia Police and Allied Barton Security responded both to tips from concerned students and to the report of an officer stationed at 40th and Locust streets at the time. Although many heard the gunfire, no eyewitnesses have come forward.
No weapons have been recovered and no injuries have been reported, Rush said. Police questioned several pedestrians and stopped vehicles in the area, but all were released, she said.
“One would assume that the person in possession of the gun fled the scene before the police responded,” she explained.
College sophomore Andrew Maxman reported that immediately following the gunshots, he saw a “car moving quickly down 41st Street in reverse,” but that it disappeared before Penn Police arrived seconds later. DPS currently do not link this with the incident.
College junior and former Daily Pennsylvanian contributing writer Lauren Rothberg clarified that she heard something hit the window or the side of her house at 41st and Pine streets. After examining the building, Penn detectives and police found no evidence of any damage to the window, Rush said.
Students noted the immediacy of DPS’ response.
Wharton junior James Karavalis said he heard police sirens “a minute” after the gunshots, while College junior Christian Graham said he saw police arrive at the area within “a matter of minutes.”
Maxman added that the police presence at the scene was strong, explaining that he saw up to nine police cars at one point outside of his 41st and Pine apartment.
A UPennAlert was released at 1:13 a.m., advising the Penn community through e-mails, text messages and phone calls to stay out of the area. A follow-up “all-clear” alert was sent by DPS at 1:50 a.m., allowing students to return to their normal activity.
The alert was issued in part because “there were still people out, and it was early,” Rush said, adding that every incident “is judged separately on its merit.”
Students received the first text message alert about half an hour to 45 minutes after the incident.
The alert “could have been done earlier,” College junior Brian Freilich said. However, he was “happy that [DPS] got the alert out.”
Rush explained that to expect an instant police alert would be unrealistic because “police agencies have a higher level of responsibility to ensure the accuracy of what we tell our community.”
To have confidence in the accuracy of the issued alert, Penn Police must first confirm there is a crime scene, assess the situation and deal with the danger in order to stabilize the environment for the safety of the community, Rush said.
She also stressed that the UPennAlert system is a “secondary level of security,” whereas the officers themselves create the primary barrier between the community and the danger. Fears of potentially “walking into a crime scene” before having received an alert were largely unfounded because “the area was swarming with police and security within seconds” of the gunshots, Rush added.
No motive or pattern for the shots has been released so far, as the investigation is ongoing.
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