2nd Philadelphia officer injured in Holmesburg shootout released from hospital

The chaos unfolded around 2:30 a.m. Sunday when officers responded to a report of shots fired in the area of Cottman Avenue.

Monday, December 11, 2023
2nd officer injured in Holmesburg shootout released from hospital
2nd Philadelphia officer injured in Holmesburg shootout released from hospital

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A second Philadelphia police officer who was shot over the weekend in the city's Holmesburg section was released from the hospital on Monday.

The Action Cam was there as a procession led the injured 31-year-old officer from Jefferson Torresdale Hospital.

Police say the officer, who was grazed in the head by a bullet, has been on the force for six years. This is the second time he has been shot in the head while on duty, according to officials.

The shooting also injured a 32-year-old officer who has been with the department for nine years. He suffered a graze wound to his nose and has since been released from the hospital.

"It's around the holidays so it's very emotional for them. It's by the grace of God that both officers are still here, they are both alert, both talking," said FOP Lodge 5 President Roosevelt Poplar.

How the shootout started

The chaos unfolded around 2:30 a.m. Sunday when officers responded to a report of shots fired in the area of Cottman Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard.

Police officials say a district sergeant who was on duty and in full uniform got a radio call reporting gunshots in the area.

The call provided information about a man wearing a tan puffy jacket getting into a grey Ford pick-up truck and firing a gun.

When the sergeant arrived at the scene, he saw a grey Dodge Ram pick-up truck on the 7300 block of Brous Avenue, which was occupied by a man wearing a tan-colored jacket.

The sergeant notified police radio and requested backup to conduct a vehicle stop.

"Officers attempt to stop that vehicle and it fled from officers taking the officers on a pursuit," said Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford.

The Dodge Ram then pulled over to the right side of the road and stopped for the sergeant. As the sergeant approached the car, however, the Ram drove off.

A short time later, police say two officers with the Highway Patrol Unit attempted to conduct a vehicle investigation on the 8000 block of Frankford Avenue at Welsh Road.

"Four officers total attempt to stop the individual. The individual rammed one of the highway patrol vehicles," said Stanford.

One patrol car with two officers in it was in front of the Ram pick-up and was rammed by the suspect's vehicle, which caused major damage.

Officials say that as the two officers exited the damaged police car, the 40-year-old man inside the grey Dodge Ram fired at them.

"As soon as he hit the car, he started shooting right away. It was like a million shots," described Sean Fish, who witnessed the incident.

Gun battle breaks out

The two injured officers returned fire after being shot several times.

A third and fourth officers with the Highway Patrol Unit pulled up behind the Dodge Ram and also fired at the offender.

The police vehicle driven by the first two officers was struck by gunshots multiple times. Authorities say the rear passenger window was shattered.

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Pictured: The scene of a shooting that left two Philadelphia police officers wounded on Dec. 10, 2023.

"Shots fired! I'm shot in the (expletive) face!" One of the officers can be heard saying over police radio.

The suspect's truck was riddled with bullet holes. A truck across the street, owned by Fish, was also hit.

"Just underneath my car there's 1, 2, 3 4, 5,6 7, 8," Fish said, counting the bullet holes.

He said the gunfire woke him up. He watched everything unfold from his second-floor apartment window.

"I watched for a while, and then the one came running into my room yelling, 'Get down, get down,'" he said.

The third officer involved is 34 years old and a 12-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department. The fourth officer involved is 40 years old and an 18-year veteran of the force.

The third and fourth officers were not injured.

None of the officers' names have been released at this time.

'They are extremely blessed'

Stanford said it's a miracle both officers who were shot are still alive.

"By the grace of God, we are having this press conference where we are able to say they are in stable condition. They are extremely blessed," Stanford said. "When I said they will physically recover, it still is a heavy thing, mentally, to know that you've been shot in the head, to know that you've been shot in the face, just doing your job."

Interim Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Stanford holds a news conference after two officers were shot and wounded on Dec. 10, 2023.

The suspect is in critical condition. It's not yet known how many times he was struck as officers returned gunfire.

The suspect's name has not been released but he is said to have multiple priors, including several firearms offenses.

"This is an individual that has been known and convicted for carrying a firearm in the past and so again, obviously, the penalties he's faced in the past, obviously, not very important to him because he's carrying a gun again today and willing to shoot at our officers," Stanford said.

A firearm was recovered inside the pick-up truck.

It's not yet clear how many shots were fired. It's also not yet known if anyone was shot at the original scene at Cottman and the Boulevard.

The scene was cleared and roads were reopened in the area of the shooting by 10 a.m. Sunday.

All four discharging officers have been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the officer-involved shooting investigation and internal affairs investigation.

2nd shooting involving officers in two months

This is the second time in just two months that a pair of Philadelphia police officers were shot in a single incident.

"We have these press conferences over and over again where our officers are involved in these types of incidents. That, one, displays the commitment they have but also displays the lack of respect for law enforcement," Stanford said.

On October 12, officers Richard Mendez and Raul Ortiz were shot in a parking garage at Philadelphia International Airport when they tried to stop a late-night car break-in.

Mendez was killed in the shooting. He was later posthumously promoted to sergeant.

Three suspects were arrested while a fourth was killed in the shootout.

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