By Christie Chisholm for The Columbia Journalism Review
It’s just before midnight on a warm summer monday when photographer Joe “Kaz” Kaczmarek gets word of a double shooting on the 6500 block of Castor Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. In less than 30 minutes he arrives on the scene, where a black baseball cap lays upside-down on the sidewalk next to a blood-soaked paper towel and a spent bullet casing outlined in chalk. Scott Small, the Philadelphia Police Department’s chief inspector, announces that a 43-year-old woman and her 55-year-old fiancé were shot a total of 12 times at close range. With two Canon cameras slung around his neck, Kaczmarek begins documenting the aftermath.
As cofounder of the Gun Crisis Reporting Project—a nonprofit devoted to covering Philadelphia’s epidemic of gun violence—that Monday was a typical day at the office for Joe Kaz. Nearly every night of the week, he is out photographing the scenes of gun-assisted crime in a city that has suffered one of the country’s highest homicide rates for nearly a decade.