After Hours-Long Standoff, Philadelphia Police Arrest Gunman
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
In the city of Philadelphia, six police officers were wounded after a suspect opened fire while police were serving a drug warrant yesterday. This led to a standoff that ended hours later when the man was taken into custody. City Police Commissioner Richard Ross said it was a miracle that no officers were killed in this event.
NPR's Jeff Brady is in Philadelphia and joins me. And Jeff, just tell us what happened here.
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Well, this started Wednesday afternoon just after 4:30. Officers were serving that warrant. And Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, he said that the situation turned dangerous almost immediately.
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RICHARD ROSS: They had already entered the premises and got towards the rear, in the kitchen area when gunfire erupted. And the shooter fired multiple rounds. Officers returned fire, many of whom who had to escape the windows and doors to get from a barrage of bullets.
BRADY: So six officers were struck by gunfire. One was actually struck in the head, but none of those injuries was life-threatening. A few hours after - later, all those officers were released from the hospital. The suspect barricaded himself in the house, and that led to a standoff that lasted more than seven hours.
Eventually, a man, 36-year-old Maurice Hill, was taken into custody.
GREENE: But just the drama of all of this and just the thought of police officers having to escape through windows under fire - and it sounds like not all the officers made it out initially. Right?
BRADY: Yeah. Two officers were trapped inside the house for about five hours along with three people they'd taken into custody before the shooting started. But police say they were all safely evacuated. A team was sent in after them.
Police said they tried negotiating with the man, even telling him that the officers who were injured would be fine - would be OK - hoping that that would get him to come out peacefully. They called a phone in the house, used loudspeakers. And then late last night, the suspect emerged from the house with his hands up. And police say he's now in custody.
GREENE: But I mean, during those hours, like, neighbors - people who live around this area, I mean, they had to get the idea that this was not good and that their city's police force was really vulnerable here.
BRADY: Yeah, it was very scary for people who live in that neighborhood. I talked with one woman, Nyjah Jones (ph). She says her 2-year-old son was in a daycare that was close to the rowhouse where the shooting happened.
NYJAH JONES: I was just getting off of work, just getting home. And on my way to get him, a bunch of cops started zooming up the block. And immediately, they were taping stuff off, and I heard the gunshots. And the school called me and let me know at that point that there was an active shooting and they couldn't release any kids.
BRADY: Jones says the kids were on lockdown for a few hours, and then they were evacuated out a side door. They were put on a bus, and Jones says she was able to go a couple of miles away to a place to pick them up.
GREENE: For people who don't know Philadelphia all that well, this was in North Philadelphia - right? - I mean, can you tell us...
BRADY: It is.
GREENE: ...More about this area?
BRADY: Yeah, it's the Tioga section of the city. And it's a neighborhood that, unfortunately, is familiar with gun violence. There are a lot of families who live there, but they say that the neighborhood has become more dangerous. And it's a place where there's a lot of poverty, drugs. It's also a place where it's not unusual to hear gunfire, a lot of those neighbors told me.
Philadelphia's mayor, Jim Kenney, talked about this and connected it to the country's gun violence problem. In this clip you're about to hear, he's talking about two sons of one of the police officers injured yesterday.
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JIM KENNEY: The two little boys that were - the officer had his head grazed - just a little bit more and those two little boys would grow up without their dad because some - because this government, both on a federal and states level, don't want to do anything about getting these guns off the streets and getting them out of the hands of criminals.
BRADY: Of course, he wasn't seriously injured, so they'll have their dad. But as you can imagine, that really got the conservative media buzzing - criticizing people for politicizing the shooting here in Philadelphia. Kenney is a Democrat, and a few Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail also mentioned the shooting to highlight their calls for stricter gun laws.
GREENE: All right. Just a close call. And I'm glad all the officers are OK. NPR's Jeff Brady reporting from Philadelphia. Thanks a lot, Jeff.
BRADY: Thank you.
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