‘Heart-Wrenching Day’: Philadelphia Reeling After Tense Standoff and Police Shootout

What to Know

  • The man suspected of shooting six Philadelphia police officers surrendered to officials after more than seven hours.
  • He had a lengthy criminal record and will likely face enough charges "to never exit jail," according to the Philly District Attorney.
  • The police investigation remains ongoing, according to Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Reeling from a tense hourslong standoff that left six police officers injured and a neighborhood in shock, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called Wednesday "a heart-wrenching day" for the city.

"In the face of what could have been a horrific tragedy, the peaceful resolution of the incident marks one of the finest moments in the history of the [police department,] and I am proud of every officer who was involved," he said Thursday afternoon.

Despite the hundreds of bullets that sprayed a North Philadelphia block, no one was seriously injured. Police later identified the six injured police officers as 26-year-old Joshua Burkitt, 32-year-old Michael Guinter, 32-year-old Shaun Parker, 43-year-old Nathaniel Harper, 42-year-old Ryan Waltman and 31-year-old Justin Matthews, police said.

Courtesy of Philadelphia Police Dept.

Guinter, Parker and Harper are members of the police narcotics strike force.

Earlier Thursday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross commended law enforcement officers for ending the standoff peacefully, and said the situation "could have been far worse."

"This was a very dynamic situation, one that I hope we never see again," he said Thursday. "I have to admit I did not think this guy was going to come out alive." 

A multiagency investigation remains ongoing. SWAT teams were back on the scene Thursday night. Officials carried out bags of evidence from a neighboring home.

Federal investigators are also looking into how firearms, including a handgun and an assault-style weapon described by Ross as an AR-15, came into the suspect's possession and whether they were used in other crimes, officials said.

Philadelphia Police Department

The suspected gunman, identified as 36-year-old Maurice Hill of Philadelphia, surrendered to police shortly after midnight Thursday outside a home along North 15th Street in the city's Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood. 

Police deployed tear gas after SWAT team members rescued two officers and three civilians who had been trapped inside the house. Hill was taken to a hospital for evaluation and then placed into police custody.

The 36-year-old has a lengthy criminal record that included firearms charges, according to court records.

"He was hell-bent on doing whatever he was going to do," Ross said.

On Thursday, Kenney challenged state and federal lawmakers to end gun violence ravaging cities across the nation.

Lawmakers need to "step up or step aside" to let municipalities deal with the problem themselves, Kenney said.

Philadelphia’s dramatic standoff came on the heels of multiple mass shootings across the United States. Kenney noted that gun violence plagues Philadelphia weekly and rarely receives the kind of attention given to Wednesday’s shootout.

“As dozens of officers were responding to the North Philadelphia incident last night, others in South Philadelphia were responding to another shooting - a man, shot in the head and later pronounced dead,” Kenney said. “That incident didn’t draw national attention. It happens daily in this city and many others across the nation.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey also called for a tougher response from his fellow lawmakers, challenging the Senate to vote on a background check bill and remove “weapons of war” that should not be on American streets.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he shelved the announcement of an executive order to do just that. Wolf said he will release details Friday.

As lawmakers weigh pending legislation, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said the suspected shooter will likely face "more than enough charges, so Mr. Maurice Hill may never exit jail."

He "never should have been on the streets," Krasner said.

The dramatic standoff started around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday as narcotics officers served a warrant on a house near North 15th and Butler streets. The operation "went awry almost immediately," Ross said.

Officers escaped through windows and doors just "to get [away] from a barrage of bullets," Ross said.

Two officers were trapped inside the house for about five hours after the shooting broke out. They were rescued by SWAT members well after darkness fell on the residential neighborhood.

"This could have been even more dangerous and volatile if it wasn't for the professionalism of this SWAT unit," Ross said. "The manner in which they got those officers out who were trapped and those other civilians that were trapped was just amazing to me."

The police commissioner personally spoke to the suspected gunman during negotiations. He made the unusual decision to be the person negotiating with Hill because he was "so worried" about his officers trapped inside, Ross said.

"I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I was 200 feet away," he said. “It was an unusual circumstance so we took unusual steps.”

Three people who officers had taken into custody in the house before the shooting started were also safely evacuated, police said.

Police repeatedly implored the suspected gunman to surrender, patching in his lawyer into a call in an attempt to persuade Hill to give up, Ross said.

"We’re about the preservation of life, and in this case, even his," the commissioner said. "This was something we were trying to convey to him all night long."

The six officers who were struck by gunfire were released from hospitals Wednesday evening. 

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