Wounded cop nabs man who shot him

June 25, 2008 9:41:59 AM PDT
Gunfire broke out early this morning in the 800 block of South 8th Street. The officer suffered a bullet wound to the arm when a suspect opened fire.

That officer and his partner talked about the ordeal late this afternoon. Officer Mark Uffelman described what happened last night: How he was able, despite a gunshot wound, to catch the man suspected of pulling the trigger.

"It didn't hurt that bad. Once the guy took off, I was determined to run him down."

With his left arm bandaged, Officer Uffelman, a 29-year veteran of the force, and his partner, Officer Dave McAndrews, an officer for 12 years, described what happened in the moments last night when gunshots rang out in South Philadelphia and Officer Uffelman was hit.

It was around 1:30 in the morning and the partners were on undercover patrol in the neighborhood where 23-year-old Beau Zabel was robbed and murdered on Fathers' Day. They came up on an armed robbery in progress at 8th and Fitzwater. Officer McAndrews went after one suspect. Officer Uffelman chased the other who, police say, turned and fired four to five times.

Officer Uffelman said, "I felt one hit my arm. The guy turned and kept running. I was able to gather myself and chase him."

Despite the gunshot wound, the 52-year-old officer and avid runner, caught up with and then arrested the armed suspect now accused of shooting him. He is 42-year-old Rakin Thabit. Officer McAndrews took the other armed suspect in custody. He is 22-year-old Jonathan Massa. Both of Camden.

Bryan Halligan, the attempted robbery victim, says he considers the two officers his own super heroes. The 25-year-old tells Action News he was on his way home from religious services when he found himself praying for his life. He was held up at gunpoint, one pointed at his neck, the other at his lower back before the officers intervened. (Watch Erin O'Hearn's interview with Brian Halligan by clicking here!)

Officer Dave McAndrews told reporters, "It was very dangerous. Mark did get shot. It could have been much more serious."

Officer Uffelman knows that. His father Charles, also a police officer, was shot and killed during a carjacking in 1978. His son still wears his badge.

Neighbors anxious over a recent spike in violence commended the officer for his tenacity and his bravery last night.

South Philadelphia resident Kevin Carr tells Action News, "He gets shot in the arm and runs the guy down, which is amazing. Unbelievable."