Police said they took into custody early on Thursday the suspect in a seven-hour shooting standoff in a north Philadelphia home that left six officers wounded after a barrage of bullets. The standoff, which began after a gunman opened fire on police officers seeking to serve a felony narcotics warrant, followed a string of mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio, in which gunmen used semi-automatic rifles.
SWAT teams were still securing the home after midnight, said police spokesman Eric Gripp, but few details were immediately available about how the suspected gunman, identified by media as Maurice Hill, 36, was taken into custody. Police moved in about five hours into the standoff, which lasted from 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday until just after midnight. The six officers were wounded after trying to serve the warrant to someone in a house, police said. All are expected to recover.
Media said the gunman was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, similar to the popular AK-47, and several handguns. Some reports said at least 100 shots were fired. A SWAT team rescued two police officers and three civilians who were trapped in the house with the suspect, police said on Wednesday.
SWAT officers rescued the officers and three suspects by stealth, without the gunman knowing they had entered the home, police commissioner Richard Ross said. “We`ve gone from a hostage situation to a barricade because all the hostages were taken out safely,” Ross told reporters, adding that it was “astounding” there had not been a greater tragedy.
All six wounded officers were released from the hospital, with one officer surviving a bullet graze to the head and another after a bullet hit body armour on his back. “Many of them had to escape through windows and doors to escape from a barrage of bullets,” Ross added. The gunman fired on a SWAT truck parked outside the residence in the Nicetown-Tioga neighbourhood, with rounds peppering buildings across the street as residents stayed in their homes.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing police sources, identified the suspected gunman as Hill, 36, a Philadelphia man with a history of gun, drugs and assault convictions. Attorney Shaka Mzee Johnson, who, court documents show, recently represented Hill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ross said the gunman stopped firing as night set in, fuelling optimism for an eventual surrender.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he was angry the gunman was able to amass such firepower. “We`ve got to get these weapons out of people`s hands,” Kenney said after visiting wounded officers in hospital. “This government, both on a federal and states level, don`t want to do anything about getting these guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals.” President Donald Trump was monitoring the situation in Philadelphia, the White House said.