The neighbors around East Hilton Street heard the blast from a shotgun Monday afternoon and knew what to do. Up and down the narrow Kensington blocks, they opened their doors for the children on the streets, who were already running for cover.
On East Madison Street, Stephanie Johnson hustled her grandchildren - and anyone else nearby - inside. A block away, Tina Jacobs checked to make sure her granddaughter was behind her, inside the house.
"The kids on the block - they know how to move when they hear bullets," she said.
Cathy Dever, who lives on Allegheny Avenue, was in her backyard when she heard what she thought was fireworks, and then saw children running, screaming, from the block behind her. She told her own children to get down.
Police said a man carrying a shotgun walked down Hilton Street between F and G Streets about 2:30 p.m. and opened fire, spraying the street with buckshot. A motive was unclear, although police said a fight had broken out on the street earlier that day and might have been connected.
Seven people were wounded. Two men, ages 24 and 25, were reported in critical condition at Temple University Hospital. The younger man was shot in the neck, the other in the chest.
The remaining victims were listed in stable condition. A 10-year-old girl was transported to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children with graze wounds to her right leg and arm. Two girls, ages 3 and 10, were taken to Hahnemann University Hospital with graze wounds to the back of their legs.
A 32-year-old woman was taken to Hahnemann with graze wounds to the left side of her neck and her right thigh. A 46-year-old man was taken to Temple with a graze wound to the back of his head.
A shotgun was recovered at the scene, police said.
The shooting was the second involving a shotgun since Saturday night, when 10 people were injured in an attack at a block party in West Philadelphia. One victim, a 46-year-old man, remained hospitalized Monday.
Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said the attacks were not connected.
Investigators said the block of Hilton was crowded Monday afternoon with residents enjoying a day outside.
Neighbors said they heard sirens sounding nearby, and watched officers run to a man who lay splayed on the sidewalk but appeared to be moving. The officers rushed him into a squad car and took off, they said.
A witness described seeing a man with his face covered by a bandanna and carrying a gun - "something big" - running east on Hilton toward G.
Police described the shooter as a black man, about 25 to 30 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a stocky build, wearing a red and white tank top. His face was covered by a black handkerchief.
Ramsey, speaking at the scene, said police believe two of those injured might have been the gunman's targets - one on a front step near F, and one closer to the corner on G, where blood stained a step and the sidewalk.
A woman nearby who declined to give her name said a friend had been injured in the shooting.
"People are not putting down the guns," she said, distraught.
Of the shooter, Ramsey said: "They don't care" about children injured on the street. "We've got a lot of violent and ignorant people - they could care less; that's not new."
Ramsey said no motive had been determined in the case. He said police were unsure if a recent nearby shooting was connected, but he added that drug sales are common in the area.
Inquirer staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.