Officers shot in Philadelphia International Airport parking garage identified; 1 killed

A reward of $225,000 is being offered by a host of police unions as well as other organizations and businesses.

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Sunday, October 15, 2023
Officers shot in Philadelphia International Airport parking garage identified; 1 killed
Officers shot in Philadelphia International Airport parking garage identified; 1 killed

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Officials have identified the two officers who were shot in a parking garage at the Philadelphia International Airport on Thursday night, one of them fatally.

Officer Richard Mendez, 50, was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after he was shot multiple times in the upper body.

Mendez was married and had a daughter. He had been on the force for nearly 22 years.

Ofc. Richard Mendez

The other officer, identified as Raul Ortiz, 60, was shot in the arm and is currently hospitalized in stable condition.

Ortiz is also married and has three children. Police say Ortiz has 20 years on the force.

The shooting happened just after 11 p.m. Thursday as the two officers, who were assigned to the airport unit, were coming into work at parking garage D.

Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford said the officers saw several people breaking into a vehicle in the parking garage area.

As the officers approached, "the suspects opened fire," hitting Mendez several times in the upper body and Ortiz in the arm, Stanford said.

"Oh my God, we got an officer down, officer down first level," a voice can be heard on a police radio call.

Philadelphia police news conference on officer killing

Police say the suspects fled in a stolen black Dodge Durango after the shooting, and police say that same vehicle dropped off an 18-year-old man with gunshot wounds at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia at 11:29 p.m.

That 18-year-old has been identified as Jesus Herman Madera-Duran of Camden, New Jersey. He had gunshot wounds to the chest, abdomen, and left arm, police say. He was pronounced dead at 11:37 p.m.

Police believe he was shot in the same incident that left Ofc. Mendez dead and Ofc. Ortiz wounded.

Authorities released surveillance video showing one of the suspects dropping off Madera-Duran's body at CHOP.

This raw surveillance video shows suspects being sought in killing of a Philadelphia police officer.

Police say the Durango was later found torched in South Brunswick in northern New Jersey around 1:30 a.m. Friday.

The Durango will be processed by members of the ATF, FBI and the Philadelphia Police Crime Scene Unit for evidence.

As many as three other people were still inside the Durango. No arrests have been made.

Police have since learned the Durango had been reported stolen in Philadelphia about a week ago.

This image from Chopper 6 shows where the torched Dodge Durango was located in South Brunswick, New Jersey.

Officials said Friday afternoon that Ofc. Mendez's gun is missing. It's not yet known if anyone fired the weapon during the confrontation.

It wasn't clear if any other suspects were wounded in the shooting, authorities said, or how many of them had fired weapons.

"It's devastating to this city to know that this is the type of behavior that's occurring, the type of individuals that are out there on the street to take someone's life over a vehicle," Stanford said.

Chopper 6 over police activity on I-95 NB near Academy Road

Officers search area along Interstate 95

Chopper 6 was overhead on Friday as a line of officers walked side-by-side in the grass along the side of Interstate 95 northbound near Academy Road in Northeast Philadelphia.

Police say an Airtag that was inside a stolen Dodge Durango connected to this investigation was found in the area. Officers had combed the scene for more evidence.

The highway was shut down for about two hours. It has since reopened.

$225,000 "immediate" reward offered for information

A reward of $225,000 is being offered by a host of police unions as well as other organizations and businesses.

The reward will be paid immediately for any information that leads to an arrest, the Philly FOP said.

"You bring them in today you're paid today," said FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or 215-686-TIPS.

McNesby said the FOP is accepting donations to add to the reward.

This is in addition to the $20,000 reward offered by the City of Philadelphia for an arrest and conviction in all murder cases.

McNesby said the city's police force was "undermanned" and said more officers were needed in the streets. He also was critical of the district attorney's office, saying that if violent offenders are not prosecuted "that sends a message they can do what they want."

Calling the two officers "standouts" and noting their long service to the city, McNesby said the loss was a tough one for their colleagues and the department.

"I saw more tears last night than I've ever seen in all my years here," McNesby said.

President Joe Biden, who was in Philadelphia on Friday, offered his condolences the families of the officers.

"They put their lives on the line to protect this community," he said.

"This is a numb, numb moment for us to again encounter something like this," said Stanford on Thursday night. "We just had three officers shot last week."

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said law enforcement staff across multiple agencies were working to identify those responsible, but said they lacked the ability to match crime scene ballistics to firearms through a database of gun sales, citing a lack of gun regulation. Pennsylvania state law prevents law enforcement and government agencies from having firearm registries.

Procession held for officer fatally shot at Philadelphia International Airport parking garage

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney posted on social media saying he was heartbroken by the tragic loss.

"My thoughts are with their family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time, and I pray for the second officer's swift recovery," he said.

Officers injured while responding to shooting

Two separate Philadelphia police officers were also involved in a car crash while responding to the shooting.

The crash happened just before 12:30 a.m. Friday at the intersection of 48th Street and Baltimore Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia.

Both are said to be in stable condition. No information has been released on what led to the collision.

Friends, family open up about devastating shooting

Friends, family open up about devastating shooting that left 1 Philadelphia officer dead, 1 injured

Action News spoke with Mendez's niece, who said her family is heartbroken by this tragedy.

She said her uncle worked hard to serve the community, loved spending time with his family, and always wore a smile.

"He was loved by everyone that came in touch with him," she told Action News.

"He was one of the purest souls," she continued. "He didn't have a bad bone in him."

Others in the community echoed her sentiment.

"Great person, (he) was admired by everyone that worked with him," said Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Frank Vanore.

"He was a standout officer. Very well respected, very well thought of," added McNesby.

Flags are flying at half-staff in Philadelphia and parts of the state to honor Mendez.

Mendez, who attended Gwynedd Mercy University according to LinkedIn, was just days away from reaching 22 years with Philadelphia police.

Officials with the university released the following statement on Mendez's death:

"We are heartbroken one of our Distinctive Mercy Graduates, Officer Richard Carrero Mendez, was killed while protecting his fellow citizens on Thursday night. Officer Mendez is the epitome of a hero. He was a lifelong learner, earning three degrees, and dedicated to serving his community. The entire GMercyU Community will continue to pray for Officer Mendez's family and for the swift recovery of Officer Raul Ortiz."

According to his LinkedIn page, Mendez helped create the Real Time Crime Center, which helps investigators monitor activity in the city.

He was assigned to the airport in 2018, where he worked alongside Ortiz.

Ortiz's daughter told Action News they are thankful for their family on the force for the overwhelming support in the last 24 hours.

"Our hearts go out to the families, to the officers in the airport, the 25th district, and the entire police department," said McNesby. "Let's keep our prayers. Let's keep our heads up. Let's get the family through this time."

Ortiz is expected to be released from the hospital on Saturday, according to his daughter.

The Philly FOP also posted to Facebook on Friday that it is raising funds for Mendez's memorial.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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