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14 Aug, 2019 21:18

Several police officers shot, gunman active in Philadelphia

Several police officers shot, gunman active in Philadelphia

At least six officers have been shot after a gunman opened fire at police in Philadelphia. One suspect is barricaded in one of the houses and continues shooting, and another has reportedly been taken into custody.

The incident began unfolding at 4:30 pm local time in the Nicetown-Tioga section of the city, when police responded to a call related to "narcotics activity," according to Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kinebrew.

One of the officers suffered a gunshot wound to his head, but remains conscious. Two other officers suffered arm injuries. All of them were released from the hospitals later that evening. 

In a separate incident, a seventh police officer was injured in a traffic accident while rushing to the scene. A pedestrian was injured in the collision as well.

One suspect has been taken into custody, NBC reported citing police. Video footage from the site shows police carrying a man who is resisting.

Another suspect fled the scene, barricaded himself in a nearby property, and continued shooting. The shooter was apparently livestreaming the showdown on Facebook, police officers were heard saying on the scanner.

The shooter has been tentatively identified as Maurice Hill, 36, a local man with a vast criminal record that includes illegal possession of firearms and drug offenses, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, citing police sources.

Hill’s involvement in the incident has been confirmed by his lawyer, Shaka Mzee Johnson, who said that Hill requested his presence at the scene. Johnson did not specify what role his client had played in the incident, or whether he was the one firing rounds at police. Hill is well-known to law enforcement, having been nabbed about a dozen times since coming of age in 2001. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a Smith & Wesson .357 and a Taurus PT .45 semiautomatic pistol, which he was barred from obtaining due to his previous criminal convictions.

Police are trying to reach out to the attacker, but all attempts so far have been unsuccessful, with the shooter continuing to fire through the windows, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told a press conference.

Ross confirmed the reports that two officers were trapped inside the building with the shooter, speaking of a “potential hostage situation.” 

The crisis unraveled when officers attempted to serve an arrest warrant, prompting the suspect to open fire and forcing officers, who already entered the building, to scramble to safety fleeing through windows and doors.

At about 9:20 local time, five hours after the standoff began, the trapped officers and the suspects they had apprehended on the second floor of the building were evacuated to safety. 

Earlier, police rescued four women who were on the second floor of what is said to be a multi-family house. One of the women praised police for “keeping them safe” during the ordeal.

The shooter has reportedly been wielding a “long rifle gun," KYW-TV reported, citing police.

“I thank God for these cops. They’re good people. Don’t say nothing bad about them,” she told KYW-TV.

About three hours after the altercation began, police are still pleading with the shooter to come out. Philadelphia Police Sergeant Eric Gripp tweeted that officers have been “imploring him [ the gunman] to surrender and avoid further injuries.”

With at least one gunman still on the loose, local residents are being evacuated from streets adjacent to the scene. A female witness who spoke to WCAU-TV said that the neighborhood has been turned into a “war zone.”

“Like the scenes that you see in war. The guns, the fire, the noise,” she said.

The nearby area was put on lockdown with officers directing the traffic away.

This includes the Health Sciences Center of Temple University. The school is urging students to “take shelter” and “be silent.”

Philadelphia Police Sergeant Eric Gripp urged the media against “broadcasting tactical positions of officers," as it endangeres police operations.

There have been conflicting reports as to the number of suspects. Initial reports indicated that there was one shooter firing at officers from inside a house in the 3700 block of North 15th Street. However, police later said they believe there were two gunmen holed up in the house.