August 21, 2019
Happening Now Now

Six Philadelphia Police Officers Shot During Active Standoff – The New York Times

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PHILADELPHIA — Six Philadelphia police officers were shot in an hourslong standoff with a gunman on Wednesday after they tried to serve a narcotics warrant at a home north of Center City, the authorities said.

The officers were taken to area hospitals with what the police described as non-life-threatening injuries. Additional officers were also being treated for “non-gunshot injuries,” Sgt. Eric Gripp of the Philadelphia Police Department said on Twitter.

The shooting began at about 4:30 p.m., prompting SWAT teams to converge on the home, in the Nicetown-Tioga section of the city.

“It is a very volatile situation that is still unfolding,” Richard Ross, the city’s police commissioner, said during a news conference just after 8 p.m. outside Temple University Hospital.

Shortly after 9:30 p.m., Sergeant Gripp said on Twitter that two officers who had been inside the house had been safely evacuated, but the gunman remained holed up. Officers had been trying to communicate with the gunman by phone and by a bullhorn, but he was not responding, the authorities said.

The commissioner said that the gunfire had broken out as officers were moving toward the kitchen in the back of the house. They returned fire, he said, and some jumped out of windows to escape a “barrage of bullets.”

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CreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press

One officer was grazed in the head. Another was shot in the arms. All six were expected to recover, Commissioner Ross said.

The city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, said that he had spoken with all six officers and that they were in good spirits. He said that seeing an officer’s young sons made him realize how their lives could have changed had things gone a little differently.

“We’re thankful,’’ Mr. Kenney said at the news conference, adding that the police were “a little angry about someone having all that weaponry and all that firepower. It’s all about the officers and their families right now. God bless them and God save them all.”

The shooting came two days after a gun battle in Southern California left one California Highway Patrol officer dead and two others injured.

The standoff in Philadelphia on Wednesday began when police officers tried to serve a narcotics warrant in the 3700 block of North 15th Street and were met with gunfire, the authorities said.

Heather Logan, 47, who lives on North 15th Street, about a block from the shooting, said she dived for safety when the shots started.

“We were ducking behind cars,” she said. “It was like Beirut out here for a little bit.”

Vernon Fields, the chef at Tasteful Sensations Seafood and Soul Food, said that he went outside to see what was going on and heard gunshots coming from several blocks away.

“We smelled the gunfire,” he said. “We saw people running down the street — police officers ducking and getting their weapons out.”

Four or five gunshots could be heard around 5:45 p.m. A police officer at the perimeter of the scene was reaching toward his gun holster shortly after the shots were fired. Two more bursts of shots rang out after 6 p.m.

The shooting of six police officers drew the attention of President Trump as well as Attorney General William P. Barr.

“The president has been briefed on the shooting in Philadelphia and continues to monitor the situation,” Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.

Abi Oshogbo, 39, who lives less than three blocks from the scene, said she was most concerned about the Precious Babies Learning Academy, a day care center close to the site of the shooting that she said had been locked down by police. She said her niece was in the building. She said that she didn’t know how many children were inside but that the center covered three floors.

“This is my community,” she said. “My niece attends that day care. We have to make sure the children get out safe.”

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CreditHannah Yoon for The New York Times

As a resident of the Nicetown section, she said, she hears shots occasionally — but nothing like as many as she heard today.

Later, James White, 49, the head of maintenance for the day care center, said that about 30 children there were all safe after being locked down by the police.

Aerial camera footage showed a large police presence at the scene. But the police urged media helicopters to pull back from the area, saying that they were hindering operations.

“Lockdown is in effect for Health Sciences Center Campus,” Temple University said on Twitter. “Seek shelter. Secure doors. Be silent. Be still. Police are responding.”

Michael Borenstein, a dean of the Temple University School of Pharmacy, said that he had received a university alert on his phone telling him that the Health Sciences Center Campus was on lockdown. “We’re watching for multiple shooters. People are sitting at their desk doing work and others are following along on the internet.”

Dr. Alfred Titus, a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College, said in an interview on Wednesday night that six police officers being shot while serving a warrant was “very unusual.”

But Dr. Titus said there’s an increasing perception among police officers that people are emboldened to “not give themselves up” and possibly turn routine interactions with the police into violence.

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CreditHannah Yoon for The New York Times

“The unusual is now becoming the not so unusual,” said Dr. Titus, who was a homicide detective and hostage negotiator with the New York Police Department before he retired in 2016. “Things like this are starting to happen more, and it’s a very difficult time to be in law enforcement for that reason.”

The Philadelphia Police Department recorded 203 homicides this year as of Tuesday. In 2018, there were 353 homicides in the city, the highest rate recorded there since 2007.

The crime rate in the city decreased 3 percent from 2016 to 2017, and the violent crime rate decreased 6.2 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Jon Hurdle reported from Philadelphia, and Neil Vigdor and Mihir Zaveri from New York. Heather Murphy and Elisha Brown contributed reporting from New York.

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