Throughout a seven-hour gun battle that turned a Philadelphia neighborhood into a war zone and left six officers injured, the goal was “preservation of life,” police commissioner Richard Ross said after a day of intense gunfire and tear gas salvos before the gunman surrendered early Thursday.
At one point, with hundreds of officers pinned down by erratic gunfire, a SWAT team rescued two officers trapped upstairs with handcuffed prisoners in the north Philadelphia home.
The police tactics worked as the shooter, with his hands up, was driven from his home after a tear gas barrage and all the injured officers were treated and released.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle that we don’t have multiple officers killed today,” Ross said.
The gunman was identified as Maurice Hill, 36, a Philadelphia man with an extensive record of gun convictions and resisting arrest, the Associated Press reported.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said Hill fired more than 100 rounds during an hours-long standoff. He said the suspected gunman could be charged with attempted murder and a number of other counts that would bring a life sentence if convicted.
He said Hill had a lengthy state and federal criminal record, including charges for gun violation, drugs, DUI, aggravated assault, resisting arrest and even “taunting a police animal.”
The suspect “should not have been on the streets,” Krasner said at a news conference Thursday.
Pennsylvania prison officials said a man with the same name and date of birth served about 2½ years on drug charges and was paroled in 2006 and served more than a year for aggravated assault and before being released in 2013.
The melee erupted as officers came to the house in a north Philadelphia neighborhood of brick and stone row homes to serve drug arrest warrants.
The standoff was especially unnerving as hundreds of officers, often pinned down by barrages of gunfire from the house, had to operate in the densely populated area of narrow streets and tightly packed houses.
At one point, dozens of children had to be evacuated from a day care center next door.
Temple University’s medical campuses nearby were placed on lockdown, and trains and buses were ordered not to stop along neighborhood routes.
The confrontation even included an unusual move by Ross, the police commissioner, and Krasner, the district attorney, who got on the phone to negotiate directly with the shooter.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Doug Stanglin, Brandon Holveck and Brittany Horn