PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia police officer was shot and killed and a second officer was wounded when they confronted people breaking into a car at Philadelphia International Airport, police said.
A person who was brought to a hospital privately and died there may have been involved in the Thursday night shooting but investigators haven’t confirmed that, interim Police Commissioner John Stanford said at a late-night news conference.
Stanford said the officers were arriving at work and were parked in the garage shortly after 11 p.m. when they saw several people breaking into a vehicle in the parking garage area.
As the officers approached, “the suspects opened fire,” hitting one officer several times in the upper body and the other in the arm, Stanford said.
One officer died shortly after 11:30 p.m. at a hospital. His name wasn’t released, but he was 50 years old and had 22 years with the force, Stanford said. The officer was married and had one child.
“They are here at the hospital, as you can imagine, heartbroken,” Stanford said.
The other officer was in stable condition. He is 60 years old and has 20 years with the police department, Stanford said. Both were assigned to the airport unit.
Police said suspects in the shooting fled in a stolen Dodger Durango, which was being sought, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The same model of car dropped off an 18-year-old man at the hospital. He had two gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead there, the paper said.
That person was “very similar to the suspect description,” but investigators hadn’t confirmed his involvement, Stanford said.
The shooting took place in the garage for the airport’s Terminal D, which was temporarily closed during the initial investigation but later reopened.
Stanford noted that the shooting came only a week after three officers were shot and wounded while responding to a call.
“A numb, numb moment for us, to again encounter something like this,” he said. “We just had three officers shot last week. And then this tonight, so you can imagine what we feel. We can imagine what this department is going through. And quite frankly, how the city should be feeling.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said law enforcement staff across multiple agencies were working to identify those responsible, but said they lacked the ability to match crime scene ballistics to firearms through a database of gun sales, citing a lack of gun regulation. Pennsylvania state law prevents law enforcement and government agencies from having firearm registries.
Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge President Joseph Regan mourned the officer’s death and said members were praying for the wounded officer.
“We lost a hero today.” Regan said.
Two local police unions — Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and Lodge 27 in Delaware County — were offering a combined $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. That would be in addition to a $20,000 reward that the city has offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
Speaking Friday at a news conference to announce the police unions’ reward, Lodge 5 President John McNesby said the city’s police force was “under manned” and said more officers were needed in the streets. He also was critical of the district attorney’s office, saying that if violent offenders are not prosecuted “that sends a message they can do what they want.”
Calling the two officers “standouts” and noting their long service to the city, McNesby said the loss was a tough one for their colleagues and the department.
“I saw more tears last night than I’ve ever seen in all my years here,” McNesby said.