A 14-year-old boy has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of a woman at the Philadelphia playground where she worked, city officials confirm.
The teenager was charged with murder and other offenses related to the Friday shooting of Parks and Recreation employee Tiffany Fletcher at the Mill Creek Recreation Center in West Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
Fletcher, 40, was “caught in the crossfire” of a shootout with the 14-year-old and at least one other individual, police said.
District Attorney Larry Krasner confirmed that the teenager is being charged as an adult, but officials did not disclose his name during a news conference on Monday.
CNN has reached out to the Defender Association of Philadelphia to determine whether they are representing the teenager.
Outlaw said officers heard multiple gunshots on Friday around 1:30 p.m. in the area of the recreation center and saw people running from the playground when they responded to the scene.
After she was shot, Fletcher ran to an area business where workers attempted to tend to her wounds. Officers transported Fletcher to a nearby hospital, but she died later that evening, Outlaw said.
The 14-year-old boy was arrested after a brief chase, and a 9mm “ghost gun” was recovered in a nearby trash can, Outlaw said.
Authorities also found 12 fired shell casings at the scene. It’s still unknown what led to the shootout and authorities are still searching for other suspects involved.
Victim stepped up when city faced staff shortage, commissioner said
Fletcher agreed in the spring to work as a pool maintenance attendant when the city, like many others, was facing a shortage of staff at its pools, and agreed to stay on at Mill Creek Recreation Center after the pool season ended, according to Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, who called Fletcher “a beloved member of the staff.”
“Tiffany answered the call each day to serve children and families in her community and to make her three children and her family proud,” Ott Lovell said.
The recreation center had just opened at 1 p.m. that day. Four other employees were present at the center when the shooting took place, according to Ott Lovell.
“Words alone cannot express the outrage, hurt, and sadness that all of us feel. Dedicated, passionate, and driven – Tiffany Fletcher was just doing her job outside Mill Creek Rec Center in West Philadelphia when – in a brazen and unconscionable act of violence – she was struck by crossfire in the middle of the day,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Jean Washington, Fletcher’s niece, called her aunt a “wonderful mother…aunt, sister, daughter.”
“I want justice for her children. They deserve their mom. For peace, we need justice,” Washington said.
“Inexcusable, deeply disheartening, horrible” level of gun violence, district attorney says
Philadelphia has been experiencing an increase in gun violence, DA Krasner said. Last week, the city recorded 11 homicides from September 3-9, he said.
Additionally, there have been 384 recorded homicides this year in the city as of Sunday, marking an increase of 4% for the same time period last year, Krasner said.
“It’s extremely important that we understand that we’re dealing with an inexcusable, deeply disheartening, horrible level of gun violence within the city of Philadelphia that is increasingly affecting children,” Krasner said.
The city’s mayor also commented on the surge in violence, calling the recent number of incidents “outrageous” and “simply unacceptable.”
“It’s just unfathomable to think of how many lives were impacted by gun violence and my deepest sympathies go out to the loved ones of everyone affected,” Kenney said.
Kenney said the ongoing violence near recreation centers and schools was one of the reasons the city now offers a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone who fires a weapon within 500 feet of a school, recreation center or library.
“Our playgrounds, our parks, our rec centers should be safe and sacred places in our communities,” Ott Lovell said.
CNN’s Tanika Gray, Jessica Prater, Zenebou Sylla and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.