'Like the running of the bulls': Witnesses describe chaotic scene at Party on the Parkway shooting

"I was like, 'I'm going to die. I'm going to die,'" Ryan Spence said.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Witnesses describe chaotic scene during Ben Franklin Parkway shooting
Action News spoke with witnesses who ran from the scene after shots were fired during the Fourth of July event on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Attendees of the Fourth of July festivities on the Ben Franklin Parkway watching the fireworks ran for safety after gunshots rang out striking two police officers on Monday night.

Eighteen-year-old Ryan Spence of Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania told Action News he was trampled in the commotion, but got up and ran to City Hall with his mom.

"People were trying to pick me up, but the couple that was trying to pick me up before they took off running, they were saying, 'I'm so sorry' and they ran. And my mother found me when I was lying on the ground. I felt like my sternum was kicked in," Ryan Spence of Bensalem, Pa. said.

Spence said they hid in bushes until they knew it was safe.

"I was like, 'I'm going to die. I'm going to die.' I never thought I would ever have to say that. I thought I was going to die and it was really sad because there were these two kids that got trampled and I looked at them and I was like, 'I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry,'" Spence said.

Michael Saks of South Philadelphia had just finished a family cookout and decided to stop by the event for the fireworks.

Saks said he started recording the festivities on his phone and "next thing I know, there were people coming at me."

Saks said there were approximately six officers around him and they were telling people to clear out as they moved towards the disruption.

"It was honestly like the running of the bulls where you just hear people running and running and not turning back," Saks said.

Saks said he ran four of five blocks away until he felt safe.

Michael Saks of South Philadelphia had just finished a family cookout and decided to stop by the event for the fireworks.

He said it was hard to decipher whether the sound was fireworks or gunshots.

"My heart kind of sunk because I was so close to it," Saks said.

Chopper 6 was above as people ran on the Parkway, knocking over chairs and jumping over barricades after the shots were fired around 9:45 p.m.

A 36-year-old Philadelphia police officer was grazed in the forehead and a 44-year-old Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy was grazed in the shoulder. Both officers have been released from the hospital.

"The way the Parkway was set up, there were barricades, metal fences all along, so people started running toward them, they ran through them and they ran over them. I saw people trip and fall. Watching parents trying to get away from everything. It was truly scary," Saks said.

Saks said he was running next to a family. He heard the father tell his child that they were OK, 'we're away from everything right now.'

"As someone who doesn't have any kids, I can't image what they were going through when they just see a boatload of people running toward them and they have to do the same," Saks said.

One of our Action News crews got caught up in the chaos when people unexpectedly started running away from the Parkway.

Families left behind strollers, blankets and other belongings. Some of them lost their shoes during the chaos.

It's unclear exactly how many people were injured, but as witnesses described, families were desperate to get out of the area.