Several staff at the McVeigh Leisure Center in Kensington were attacked on Thursday afternoon by a group of unruly swimmers, who turned violent when told to leave the pool, police said.
After the first disturbance, swimmers vandalized three cars in the parking lot of the leisure center.
The pool has since been drained and will be closed for the remainder of the summer due to concerns about other issues.
The incident occurred around 4:25 a.m. in the swimming pool of the establishment in 400-64 East Ontario Street
About 30 minutes before the attack, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation tweeted about a planned event for teens to take lifeguard lessons from 6-7 p.m.
Pop-up pool happening tonight! Meet at McVeigh Pool (400 E. Ontario St.) from 6-7 p.m. for teen-only lifeguard lessons, pretzels 🥨 and prizes ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/WAdB3MRr54
— Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (@PhilaParkandRec) July 21, 2022
Staff told police they tried to eject three women from the pool for disruptive behavior. The women refused to leave and became hostile towards the staff, taunting and threatening them from one end of the pool to the other, police said.
When the staff members decided to close the pool, all the other swimmers got out with no problem.
The three women then followed the staff members into the recreation center building and began attacking them as the staff members attempted to prevent them from entering.
Eventually, one of the staff managed to get the women out of the building, at which point they continued their tirade in the parking lot. Three cars were left with dents and scratches, including one whose windshield was broken, said the police.
While the women were in the parking lot, two unidentified men entered the leisure center and stole a bag belonging to a member of staff. The bag was later recovered, but a scooter helmet that was also taken is still missing, police said.
The victims of the attack included two men and three women, aged between 17 and 63. They reported minor injuries to the police.
Authorities did not provide a general description of the age or profile of the three women behind the attack, who left the scene without being apprehended or identified. The police too did not say whether the men who entered the building were related to the women.
Philly is in the midst of a shortage of lifeguards and has made appear pool events to attract job seekers across the city all summer long. The recruiting event at McVeigh Recreation Center was canceled after the attack.
Due to the shortage of lifeguards, only 80% of the city’s pools have opened, and Parks & Recreation has been rolling them out on a tiered system since June.
“To ensure that we can keep residents as well as our staff safe, we have decided that we must close McVeigh,” said Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell.
The pool at the Scanlon Leisure Center is open to people from the Kensignton area. The pool is a four-minute drive and a 15-minute walk from McVeigh.