Police identify gunman shot in standoff near City Hall

July 6, 2012 9:00:50 PM PDT
Philadelphia Police have identified the man hospitalized in critical condition after a tense standoff with police near Philadelphia's City Hall.

RAW VIDEO: Shots fired in Center City standoff

The police say they don't know why the young man from South Philadelphia starting shooting randomly in the heart of Center City Friday morning. They're just thankful that no officers or civilians were injured.

Dozens of police officers and trained negotiators rushed to the scene. The call came in around 6:20 Friday morning just as rush hour commuters were starting to pour into the city.

It was a man with a gun, shooting randomly at parked cars and a window at the Masonic Temple. When police arrived, he shot at them.

"He striked an RPC 623 in the header of the car. The officers, realizing they did not have an adequate shot, exited their vehicles and took cover," said Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel

Police shut down the area around city hall and North Broad. They tried to reason with 22-year-old Amir Bey and repeatedly ordered him to drop his weapon. They got no response.

After awhile, Bey stepped out into the street, raised his gun and fired at the police. Over a dozen officers shot back.

When Bey went down, the police rushed in along with an ambulance that had been waiting nearby. He was rushed to Hahnemann Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

The police say they're lucky no one else was hurt at what is normally one of the busiest intersections in Center City.

"I was just really shocked, because ordinarily I would have come through a bit earlier, and had I come through earlier I would have been smack in the middle of it," said Wanda Britte of Folcroft, Pa.

16 officers fired multiple rounds. Crime scene investigators marked at least 97 shell casings and other pieces of evidence.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the firepower was justified.

"You've got to neutralize the threat. This is not television. This is not something you can play around with. He's still alive right now, but even if it had been fatal, certainly under the circumstances it would have been justified," he said.

Police say Bey was hit 10 to 12 times. He remains hospitalized in critical condition. He has no prior criminal record and the police have no idea what set him off Friday morning.

"Whether it has been diagnosed previously or will be diagnosed later, clearly that was somebody of a deranged person to engage police officers in this manner," said Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel.

While Bey was in surgery, investigators went to work after trying to figure out what happened and how a man with possible mental problems got his hands on a gun.

"When they bring a weapon and a gun into the game it's a little bit different," said Deputy Commissioner Bethel. "We have gone through a number of programs of how to address people with mental capacities."

While the department commended the 16 officers for their actions, investigators will make sure the shootings in the heart of the city were justified.

"It's not something that happens every day. It's just one of those things that occur occasionally," said John Laidacker.

The Philadelphia Police Department says it will put those officers who fired shots back on the streets soon; some may need retraining or counseling.

Investigators are also hoping interviews with the suspect's family will help them figure out what set him off.

Broad Street from Race to John F Kennedy Boulevard, as well as the 1400 block of JFK was closed while police investigated. Both have roads have re-opened.

SEPTA has resumed normal service after suspending and detouring train, trolley and bus services around Ciy Hall due to this morning's incident.