Man who fatally shot SWAT officer not yet charged in his death

The man who fatally shot Cpl. James O'Connor has only been charged with the murder for which police sought to arrest him before the shooting that killed O'Connor

Chris Palmer
Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — Murder and related charges have been filed against one of several men present in a Frankford rowhouse during the fatal shooting Friday of Philadelphia Cpl. James O’Connor IV — though not yet in connection with the SWAT officer’s killing.

Court records show that Hassan Elliott was arraigned early Saturday on counts of murder, conspiracy and related crimes for the March 1, 2019, shooting of Tyree Tyrone in Frankford.

Police officers salute as the hearse carrying the body of Philadelphia police officer Cpl. James O'Çonnor leaves the hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. (Photo/TNS)
Police officers salute as the hearse carrying the body of Philadelphia police officer Cpl. James O'Çonnor leaves the hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. (Photo/TNS)

The charges will hold Elliott, 21, in jail without bail as authorities continue to investigate who all was involved in O’Connor’s death. He and other SWAT officers had been serving a warrant on Elliott for the 2019 killing of Tyrone Friday morning when someone inside the Bridge Street rowhouse where Elliott had been staying began shooting through a closed door, authorities have said.

O’Connor, a 23-year veteran of the department, was struck in the arm and shoulder and declared dead at Temple University Hospital Friday morning.

Court records also show that Elliott was arraigned Saturday on counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault and related charges for an incident that occurred Dec. 27, 2019. The details of that crime were not immediately clear.

Police said Friday that Elliott was one of six people inside the rowhouse when at least one person began firing at O’Connor and the SWAT officers. All of the people were in custody as detectives continued to investigate who fired and what charges might be filed, Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said Friday.

Police have identified only one other person allegedly in the house at the time: Khalif Sears, 18, who had been wanted as a second suspect with Elliott in the Tyrone killing. He has not yet been charged for either incident.

Philadelphia Police SWAT officers accompany the body of Cpl. James O’Connor IV to a hearse at the emergency room entrance at Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia on Friday. He is the first officer to be killed in the line of duty in five years.

O’Connor, 46, was a married father of two who had spent 15 years in the SWAT unit. His father and son were also city police officers, and his daughter serves in the Air Force, police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Friday. Friends described him as honest, straightforward and devoted to his family and his unit.

O’Connor was shot about 5:40 a.m. when he and other Special Weapons and Tactics officers, along with members of a homicide fugitive task force, entered the two-story rowhouse.

The March 2019 murder for which Elliott was wanted happened around the corner from the house where O’Connor and the other officers were serving the warrant Friday. Before they could reach Elliott, more than a dozen bullets flew through the door.

Sears was hospitalized but is expected to survive and face murder charges. Four other people were in the house at the time, police said Friday, one of whom was struck by gunfire but was quickly treated and released into police custody.

O’Connor was taken to Temple, where he was declared dead at 6:09 a.m. He was the first Philadelphia officer to be fatally wounded in the line of duty since March 5, 2015, when Officer Robert Wilson III was killed in a gun battle with a pair of robbers inside a North Philadelphia video game store.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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