2 Philly officers shot serving warrant
"We buried a cop . . . less than a week ago. And tonight we have two officers shot. . . . I think I can speak for the entire department when I say we're fed up."
By George Anastasia, John Shiffman and Robert Moran
Violent month in the City of Brotherly Love: Read the P1 News Report
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Philadelphia Police this morning have arrested a 16-year-old male in connection with a double shooting Tuesday night in the Frankford section that left two Philadelphia police officers wounded.
The two plainclothes narcotics officers were shot as they tried to serve an arrest warrant in the 2000 block of Oxford Street at about 6:30 p.m.
The boy, who police say made a living a drug dealer, lived at the house at 2013A Oxford St. He will be charged with nine counts of attempted murder - one count for every narcotics officer standing outside the home when the teen allegedly opened fire on them, authorities said.
The officers, wearing plainclothes but with their badges visible, had begun to hit the front door of the multiple-unit dwelling with a battering ram when the shots were fired about 6:30 p.m.
After an intense three-hour siege involving SWAT teams and dozens of other officers, police escorted seven residents out of the house and said they believed they had the gunman in custody.
The shootings brought an immediate call for tougher gun laws from Mayor Street and Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson. Mayor-elect Michael Nutter called the rise in violence aimed at police "insane."
The wounded investigators were the fifth and sixth police officers shot in the last two months in a city where gun violence and drug dealing have escalated the homicide rate and, more recently, appear to have turned badges into targets.
The shootings occurred just two weeks after Officer Chuck Cassidy was shot while attempting to stop a robbery at a Dunkin' Donuts on North Broad Street. He died the next day, Nov. 1
A high ranking police official said the department was "fed up" with the violence aimed at its members.
But authorities said they were thankful that the two men shot tonight, unlike Officer Cassidy, did not make the ultimate sacrifice.
One was released from Temple University Hospital shortly after being treated for a gunshot wound to the leg.
The other was at Frankford Hospital-Frankford Campus, where he was being treated for a gunshot to the hip.
Police said the undercover investigators were attempting to gain entry to what authorities said was a "crack house" when they were shot.
Moments later, police flooded the area with scores of vehicles, including a medic crew on standby and a SWAT van. The overwhelming police presence and the frantic search shut down traffic on local streets, including Torresdale Avenue near Orthodox, clearing the area of civilians. Police helicopters made continuous sweeps of the neighborhood, using bright searchlights.
SWAT teams took up positions around the house where, authorities believed, the suspect or suspects might have been holed up.
Police moved cautiously, in part because of the earlier gunfire, but also because other residents apparently were in the building.
Officials, meanwhile, rushed to the hospitals where the officers were being treated.
Chief Inspector William Colarulo, standing outside Temple University Hospital, pointed out that the police responding to the latest shooting were still wearing the "mourning crepes" on their uniforms for Officer Cassidy.
"We buried a cop . . . less than a week ago," he said. "And tonight we have two officers shot. . . . I think I can speak for the entire department when I say we're fed up."
Street and Johnson said the latest round of police-targeted violence underscored the need for stricter gun laws.
Street called on Washington and Harrisburg to react.
"They're not getting the message," he said of federal and state legislators who have failed to pass tougher gun-control legislation.
But he also said the city was making "progress" in the fight against violence.
"We're actually making progress, but we're not getting the help we need," Street said. "This city is rallying. . . . It's an uphill and difficult task, but we're having great success."
Johnson said the officers had been "very, very lucky" and complained that Pennsylvania had "the softest gun laws" in the country.
The shootings also sparked an immediate reaction from Mayor-elect Nutter.
"The message has got to get out that you can't shoot a Philadelphia police officer," Nutter said.
A half-hour after the officers were shot, Nutter delivered an address on Philadelphia's "new identity" to an audience at the Franklin Institute. In it, he said the city needed to discard its gritty, scrappy Rocky-style image; embrace opportunity and education; and do a better job of telling the world about Philadelphia's successes.
When he mentioned the wounded officers briefly toward the end of his remarks, members of the audience let out small groans.
"It is an unconscionable situation," Nutter said from the lectern.
After his speech, as he was flanked by the plainclothes Philadelphia police officers on his security detail, Nutter at one point paused, looked toward the ceiling of the Franklin Institute, and shook his head.
"It's just not going to be tolerated," he said.
Other officers wounded in recent weeks include Brian Decoatsworth, who was shot in the face at close range by an attacker wielding a sawed-off shotgun loaded with birdshot. Two other officers were wounded in what are believed to have been drug-connected crimes.
The shootings, like those tonight, occurred during what could best be described as routine police work.
"They were doing their jobs," Johnson said of the officers.
Copyright 2007 The Philadelphia Inquirer
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