- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Several police officers were injured in a gunfight in a North Philadelphia neighborhood Wednesday afternoon that dragged past midnight before the suspect surrendered.

Six officers were shot, police spokesman Sgt. Eric Gripp tweeted around 6:20 p.m., adding that the suspect was still firing, hours after the incident began as an attempt to serve a warrant in a drug case.

All six were taken to “area hospitals with non life threatening injuries. Additional officers also receiving treatment for non-gunshot injuries,” he wrote on Twitter. All had left hospital Wednesday evening, Police Commissioner Richard Ross said.

One of the officers was shot in the head though he was conscious and communicating as it was only a graze wound.

“It’s nothing short of a miracle that we didn’t have multiple officers killed today,” Commissioner Ross said, citing the narrow tactical space and the power of the weapon used as reasons to expect far worse.

The suspect, identified by multiple Philadelphia news outlets as Maurice Hill, was in police custody shortly after midnight.

Video footage showed the suspect surrendering peacefully and coming out with his hands up from inside a rowhouse in the Nicetown-Tioga section of the city.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, citing police sources, Mr. Hill has “a lengthy history of gun convictions and of resisting attempts to bring him to justice.”

Multiple news outlets reported the gunman had an AK-47 and multiple pistols.

“That male has a long gun! That male has a long gun!” police at the scene told dispatchers as the shootout began.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney didn’t name the suspect at that press conference, but, in using the platform to argue for gun control, said police knew the gunman. The mayor said the gunman had a long criminal record that should have prevented him from ever getting a weapon, much less the arsenal he apparently had.

Mr. Kenney said city officials are “a little angry about someone having all that weaponry, all that firepower.”

Commissioner Ross said at an evening press conference that, after the initial woundings, two officers were trapped inside the building in what he called a “potential hostage situation.”

But around 9:40 p.m. the potential hostage situation ended.

Sgt. Gripp tweeted that “2 PPD Officers who were in house with shooter have been safely evacuated by PPD SWAT,” though he added that the “suspect is still armed and inside house.”

The commissioner said later that the situation had “gone from a hostage situation to a barricade.”

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the bicycle officers with the Narcotics Strike Force had been on the building’s second floor with three other people in handcuffs, police said. The suspect on the first floor was firing into the ceiling, endangering them all, the Inquirer reported.

Commissioner Ross said around 8 p.m. that the gunman even fired on a SWAT truck while the commissioner was sheltering inside it.

“This situation is in no way resolved,” he said. “We are trying to talk to this male, trying to let him know that he can end this peacefully now.”

He said police have called the gunman “multiple times” and that the suspect has answered the phone at least twice but hasn’t spoken to them.

Police also have used a bullhorn to try to communicate with the gunman.

In the rush to respond, a seventh officer was injured at a nearby Broad Street intersection in a car accident that also injured a pedestrian, police said. That seventh cop was the only officer still hospitalized Wednesday night.

The Fox affiliate in Philadelphia reported that the gunman was livestreaming the shootout, though WTXF did not say on what platform.

The shooting reportedly started around 4:30 p.m. while police were carrying out a narcotics investigation in the low-income, residential neighborhood near the corner of 15th and Butler streets.

After the shooting began, police responded in massive numbers, with dozens of cruisers and at least one armored vehicle.

Sgt. Gripp tweeted shortly before 6 p.m. that police were being hampered by the media frenzy.

“Shooting still active. Avoid area,” he tweeted. “MEDIA - STOP BROADCASTING TACTICAL POSITIONS OF OFFICERS.”


Mr. Kenney, the mayor, and District Attorney Larry Krasner were at Temple University hospital to visit wounded officers.

Mr. Kenney said he had talked with all six officers there or at Einstein Medical Center and they “were all in good spirits” considering what had happened earlier.

He said he spoke to the officer who suffered a graze wound to the head. The policeman was with his two sons, the ages of whom the mayor estimated at 9 or 10.

The White House said President Trump was briefed on the shooting early in the evening and was monitoring the situation. He is spending the week at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

According to one neighborhood witness who spoke to Aaron Baskerville, a reporter with Philadelphia NBC channel WCAU, there were “a series of shootings, the smell of gunpowder” before police descended on the scene. She estimated the number of shots at “over 100” and said it sounded “like a war, like scenes you see” in a movie.

WCAU reporter Brandon Hudson said the neighborhood sees frequent shootings and residents, who were milling about the cordoned-off streets, “don’t seem to want to talk me … [They’re] always reluctant to talk because of fear.”

Temple University, which is located in north Philadelphia, locked down one of its campuses in response to the shootings.

“Lockdown is in effect for Health Sciences Center Campus,” the university tweeted. “Seek shelter. Secure doors. Be silent. Be still. Police are responding.”

The lockdown was lifted after 7 p.m.

SEPTA, the local subway system, suspended service at the nearby Erie, Allegheny and Hunting Park stations on the Broad Street Line and made adjustments to bus service.

The neighborhood also has a day care center, the Precious Babies Learning Academy, just two blocks away at 15th and Erie, though the center said the children were all safe and sheltering in place. Police escorted 80 children from the center during the 7 p.m. hour, WCAU reported.

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