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Videos appear to show a robbery suspect shooting at a Philly cop from close range and without warning

Philadelphia police (chrisinphilly5448/Flickr)

A robbery suspect being confronted by a Philadelphia police officer Tuesday night began shooting at the officer without warning from just several feet away before he ran from the scene, according to videos of the incident captured on neighbors’ surveillance cameras.

The videos, which two neighbors shared with The Inquirer on Wednesday morning, appear to show how a brief and initially unremarkable encounter quickly turned violent. Two of the shots struck the officer in the shoulder, police said, and the incident kick-started what became a chaotic series of events that left several others wounded — including the robbery suspect, who police said shot himself in the head in the backyard of a nearby home.

Mayor Jim Kenney and police brass commended the responding officers during a virtual news conference Wednesday, saying they had demonstrated “incredible bravery and professionalism” amid a tumultuous and dangerous episode. None of the officers fired their weapons, said Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Naish, who also credited neighbors with assisting police as the situation unfolded.

“I’m proud of the way the city and the neighbors from that area responded,” Naish said.

The videos appeared to capture the shooting, which police said happened around 10 p.m. Tuesday. One of the videos shows the officer walking with the man — who police have said was a suspect in a nearby armed robbery — on the 1400 block of Leithgow Street in North Philadelphia before they turned onto the 400 block of Harlan Street.

Both videos then show the man quickly turning toward the officer — who is about a car’s length away — and firing three shots at him before turning and running back onto Leithgow.

“Radio, I’m shot, I’m shot,” the officer can be heard saying on one video. He then runs after the suspect.

Naish said the suspect, whom he declined to identify, then ran through an alleyway and into the backyard of a nearby home. The home’s owner flagged down police, Naish said, and when officers surrounded the area, the suspect fired into the house, striking the homeowner in the leg.

Not long after that, Naish said, officers heard another gunshot. When officers entered the yard, they found the suspect suffering from what they believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Two officers then put the suspect into a police cruiser to take him to the hospital, police said. But they crashed into another car at 10th and Oxford Streets and were also hospitalized.

Police did not identify any of the injured officers or the homeowner. They said the three officers were all released from the hospital Wednesday, and that the homeowner was hospitalized in stable condition.

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, addressing reporters outside the hospital late Tuesday night, called the events “unimaginable” and added: “These officers are out here doing what they’re trained to do. They run toward the danger. That’s what all of these officers here did. And they’re here in an emergency room.”

Kathy Santiago, 60, who has lived on the 400 block of Harlan Street for most of her life, said Wednesday morning that she had been watching a movie when she heard the pop-pop-pop of the shots outside. After hearing that an officer had been shot, she said, she took a towel out to him and tried to help. Responding officers then told her to go back inside as they searched for the suspect.

“It was scary,” said Santiago.

Jason Knorr, 36 — who provided one of the videos to The Inquirer — said he took his infant son into the basement after he heard the shots.

And a third neighbor, who provided the other video to The Inquirer but asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions, pointed out that her mother’s SUV, which was parked nearby, had two bullet holes in it Wednesday morning — the result of a frightening episode that she said was unusual for her street.

“This is a quiet block,” the woman said, with crime scene tape still strewed in front of her steps. “It’s crazy.”

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(c) 2021 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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