If you wondered whether the era of mass shootings was over, this past week brought just one more reminder.
Kathleen Burleigh had just gotten off work when her 15-year-old son Declan called to tell her that someone had shot at their house — and that her teenage twin sisters had also been hit by gunfire.
“He said, ‘Mom, someone just shot,’ and he hung up,” Kathleen told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Declan, who was shot eight times, was pronounced dead at the scene. And while Kathleen did not get to talk to her twin girls about the ordeal, she did receive a phone call from one of their friends.
“She said she had been held up by a 19-year-old in an alley, and they were both shot,” Kathleen recalled. “One in the leg and one in the ear.”
The two girls were not seriously injured, but their blood quickly pooled around the wheel of their car after they stopped at a gas station for help.
“They told me it was blood everywhere. And I know it was,” Kathleen said.
Earlier that day, Declan had gone to McDonald’s with his twin, Brooklyn, at 5:45 p.m. to collect their free Big Mac meals and an ice cream sundae. He had finished his shift a few minutes before the shooting.
“We would usually get them at McDonald’s, but they didn’t go this day because it was a holiday,” Kathleen said.
The girls decided to walk to the store together, after they found out that Brooklyn would not be able to attend school on Monday because she had to have knee surgery on Friday.
“It was an act of violence, plain and simple,” Kathleen said. “It’s not that it’s in any way justified, it’s not that it’s at all justified. And it’s a shame that somebody would do that to these young girls, who are just 15.”
Declan had a difficult childhood, Kathleen told the Inquirer. He had been told by his mother that she wanted to focus on him rather than on her daughters, who were born out of wedlock. But he tried hard to reach out to Brooklyn, and his older sister always made him feel as though he had a sister.
“You just feel very violated,” Kathleen said. “If a person was walking past your house with the intent to shoot at you or any of your family members, they don’t like the fact that you are not happy. They are very upset if they can’t get what they want.”
“It’s very difficult to be an African-American female and live in America today,” she added. “You could get killed just by driving down the street.”
For the police, Declan’s death marks the 42nd homicide in Philadelphia this year. The murder rate for 2018 was not significantly different from the city’s homicide numbers in 2017.
Declan’s mother is planning a vigil on Wednesday to remember her son.
Click here for more from the Philadelphia Inquirer.