Police Officers Shot in Standoff Recover, Suspect's Lawyer Recalls Tense Scene

August 15, 2019 - 6:24 am
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(KYW Newsradio) All six police officers who here shot in a standoff with a gunman in North Philadelphia on Wednesday are out of the hospital and recovering at home.

One officer, who was hurt in car accident on the way to the scene, is still in the hospital.

In a briefing at police headquarters Thursday morning, Commissioner Richard Ross says he is surprised the suspected shooter, 36-year-old Maurice Hill, is still alive.

He said the scene up at 15th Street and Erie Avenue in the city's Tioga-Nicetown neighborhood, was still active on Thursday morning. Police have not been able to go through the house where the shooter was holed up Wednesday because the tear gas used to flush the suspected gunman out is still in the air.

Two SWAT team members and three civilians were trapped in the house for hours during the standoff. Ross said that, in his press briefings on Wednesday, he didn't want to give away that there were police officers in the house, because he wasn't sure if the gunman knew about it. 

Their safety in that moment was Ross' first concern. Ross says that's why he was so close to the scene. Police were afraid the shooter might run upstairs to find them.

The officers and civilians were all released at the same time, transforming the hostage situation into a barricade situation, requiring different tactics. That's when police were able to use tear gas.

It's not normal for a commissioner to be so close to a barricade situation, but Ross said he wanted to make sure the situation came to a peaceful conclusion. He thanked the officers who helped make it happen.

"All those folks who were inside trapped, not one of them was injured. Nobody died, including the suspect. That in and of itself speaks volumes to their dedication, their patience, their tenacity and everything else. I say that I am thankful to them. I thank each and every one of them," he said.

Police are still waiting to search the house to find how many weapons and how much ammunition the gunman had. Ross said he believes a long rifle was used to shoot at police from a lower level of the house. 

Negotiating a surrender

Hill's lawyer, Shaka Johnson, helped police get him out. Ross said it was an unconventional move to bring someone into a situation like this.

Johnson says initially he was at home watching the situation unfold on television like everyone else, but when negotiations between Hill and the police weren't getting anywhere, he got involved.

Johnson said Hill called him around 8:30 p.m.

"He was obviously very anxious and concerned, and let me know that he was the person inside the house who needed to be brought out and wanted to come out safely," Johnson said. "He asked me to specifically be here on scene when he came out, because he was certain that my presence would mean that nothing would happen to him."

Johnson was in on a three-way call with Ross and Hill. He described a tense scene. When Johnson got there, wearing a bulletproof vest, he got on a bullhorn.

Then Ross said they deployed tear gas. 

Ross says Hill came out of the house with gun in his waistband. Officers approached Hill and took him down. Then Hill got treatment at Temple University Hospital.

Police say Hill has an extensive criminal record and he can expect some very serious charges, including attempted murder.

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KYW Newsradio's Mike Dougherty and Tim Jimenez contributed to this report.

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