Six Police Officers Were Shot By A Gunman During An Hours-Long Standoff In Philadelphia
“It was like a war, like a scene that you see in war,” a witness said.
Six police officers were shot Wednesday in Philadelphia during an attempt to serve a warrant for narcotics, sparking an hours-long standoff as the suspect continued to fire his gun.
Officers serving the warrant were in a home's kitchen when the gunman began to fire around 4:30 p.m., Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said.
"They had to escape through windows and doors from a barrage of bullets," he told reporters outside a hospital.
At times, officials said the suspect seemed to have "an unlimited supply of weapons and bullets."
It wasn't until shortly after midnight that the suspect, whom police did not immediately identify, was taken into custody.
All six of the officers who were shot Wednesday were released after being treated at local hospitals.
"It's nothing short of a miracle we don't have multiple cops killed today," Ross said.
In the chaos of the shooting, authorities said two officers had been trapped in the second floor of the building. The officers were stuck in the building, in a different area from the shooter, for more than five hours.
Ross said SWAT officers were able to surreptitiously remove the two officers, as well as three hostages being held in the building, without the shooter becoming aware.
But the tense standoff between officers and the gunman continued on for hours, with multiple police officers remaining in position outside the building Wednesday night while shots continued to ring out from the building.
Ross said buildings across the street and the department's SWAT car were struck by gunfire.
The shooting occurred in the 3700 block of 15th Street in the city's Nicetown–Tioga area. Video from the scene showed officers loading a person into the back of a police cruiser.
Ross said "multiple" people had been taken into custody when police served the warrant before the shooting began.
By 10:30 p.m., Ross said the situation had evolved from a "hostage situation" to a "barricaded suspect."
Police reached out through a loudspeaker and called the suspect at home, Ross said.
By late Wednesday night, Ross said police had finally made contact via phone with the suspect and his attorney in a three-way call, trying to persuade him to end the standoff and surrender.
Local news outlets reported that the suspect had been livestreaming the confrontation with police, but a spokesperson for Facebook told BuzzFeed News the company has found no evidence that the suspect was livestreaming the incident on Facebook or Instagram.
During the standoff, police cordoned off a large area of the neighborhood as shots continue to be fired from the building.
A daycare nearby was forced to shelter in place as police officers swarmed into the area, Philadelphia's NBC affiliate reported. About 80 children were stuck inside. Officers were later seen carrying toddlers and holding the hands of young children as they led them away from the scene.
"It was like a war, like a scene that you see in war," a woman who lives in the neighborhood told the station. "The guns, the fire, the noise — it was like bombs going off simultaneously at a time where people are having dinner."
The nearby Temple University was also locked down due to the shooting situation.
Located in North Philadelphia, Nicetown–Tioga is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city and one of the highest crime rates in the area. It is located in one of the three poorest zip codes in the city; according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the three zip codes account for nearly a third of all homicides in the city since 2013.
"We're doing everything within our power to get him out," Ross said.
The White House said President Trump had been briefed on the shooting.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Wednesday that he had spoken to all six of the officers who were shot.
"We're just thankful," he said about officers being injured in the incident. He then added: "A little angry about someone having all that weaponry and all that firepower, but we'll get to that another day."
Kenney said the suspect, who had a "long" criminal record, appeared to have a large supply of ammunition, which had prolonged the standoff and put officers in danger.
"Our officers need help, they need help, they need help with gun control," Kenney said. "Our officers deserve to be protected, and they don't deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with an unlimited supply of weapons and bullets."
In a press conference on Thursday, Kenney advocated for stronger gun control laws, saying they could prevent the "senseless and preventable" deaths that so many cities have recently faced.
"No one should have access to the kind of weaponry and firepower that we saw in North Philadelphia yesterday," Kenney said.
"If we don't see change, gun violence will continue to ravage our communities and tear families apart," Kenney added. "So, I say to our state and federal lawmakers: Step up or step aside."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf echoed the mayor's calls for stricter gun laws, saying it's "miraculous that only six people were injured" in the standoff.
"We’ve gotta start by figuring out ways of getting guns out of the hands of people like the jerk who shot six officers yesterday in Philadelphia," Wolf said.