(PHILADELPHIA) — Angry politicians are pushing for gun control after six Philadelphia police officers were shot and injured in a dramatic, hours-long shootout and standoff.
Officers were serving a narcotics warrant on suspected shooter Maurice Hill and had entered a North Philadelphia home when gunfire erupted Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
Hill, armed with multiple guns, allegedly barricaded himself inside and fired from the first floor as he held two officers and three civilians hostage on the second floor, police said.
Gunfire rained down on police for hours. Gunshots ricocheted off sidewalks and homes as officers crawled and crouched behind cars to avoid getting hit.
Six officers were struck by gunfire. And while they all survived and have been released from hospitals, local and state politicians came together in a desperate plea for gun control.
Fired-up state Sen. Sharif Street was among the officials speaking at a Thursday news conference where he called for the Pennsylvania state Legislature to act.
“We in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have not done everything we’re supposed to do. We are derelict in our duties and it’s because the majority caucus is afraid of the NRA,” Street said.
“We have work to do,” he said. “The next time one of my colleagues offers their thoughts and prayers and pretends somehow that they are people of faith, I say until they show me some works, their faith is dead.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kinney said police need help keeping weapons out of criminals’ hands. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) also spoke Thursday and said the U.S Senate must vote for a universal background check bill and a ban on military-style assault weapons.
Hill has a lengthy criminal record, which includes a federal conviction, going back to the early 2000s, authorities said. Hill was under federal supervision until 2016, officials said
“Whether it was the six officers or some kid on the street of Philadelphia who gets shot with guns that shouldn’t be in people’s hands, it’s aggravating and sad,” Kinney said Wednesday.
If the bullet that grazed the head of one officer hit a slightly different spot, his “two boys would’ve grow up without a dad,” the mayor said. “Because this government, both federal and state level, don’t want to do anything about getting guns off the street.”
“If the state and federal government don’t want to stand up to the NRA and other folks, let us police ourselves,” Kinney said. “Our officers deserve to be protected and don’t deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with unlimited amount of weapons and bullets. It’s disgusting.”
Kinney said Thursday, “As dozens of officers were responding to the North Philadelphia incident last night, others in South Philadelphia were responding to another shooting — a man, shot in the head and later pronounced dead. That incident didn’t draw national attention. It happens daily in this city and many others across the nation.”
“Getting relief in the form of meaningful gun control legislation will save lives — the lives of residents, and the lives of the men and women who have sworn to protect us,” he said. “Incidents like this should not keep happening — not in our city, not in our country. If we fail to act, we will continue to see gun violence ravage our communities and tear families apart. So I say to our state and federal lawmakers: Step up — or step aside.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is also looking to combat gun violence. Wolf’s office said Wednesday he will sign an “executive order to make sweeping changes to executive branch agencies and programs to better target the public health crisis of gun violence.”
Over 1,600 people died in Pennsylvania from gunshot wounds in 2017, which is above the national average, according to Wolf’s office.
The governor said he planned to announce details of the executive order on Thursday but that meeting was postponed due to Wednesday’s standoff.
After a tense, seven-hour standoff, tear gas convinced Hill to surrender and he was taken to a hospital. He was later seen leaving the hospital and being placed in a transport van.
Ross called the dramatic negotiations with Hill “unorthodox,” adding that this was the first time he as commissioner stepped in during hostage negotiations.
“I am surprised that he came out,” Ross said, “because he indicated to some that he was not going to go back. He told me on the phone, he had an extensive criminal history. He knew the system.”
Hill called his longtime attorney, Shaka Johnson, around 8:30 p.m., hours into the standoff, to ask for help, Johnson told ABC News.
Johnson said he believes the standoff wasn’t planned. He said Hill, who welcomed a baby two days ago, was caught up in the moment and the situation escalated quickly.
According to Johnson, Hill wasn’t making demands to police and just wanted to end the situation in a way that ensured him no harm.
Johnson connected Hill over the phone to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who said he was in an “animated, excited, frankly dangerous state.”
Krasner said he ended up on a four-way call with Hill, the police commissioner and Johnson. Eventually, Ross gave Johnson a deadline of 11:45 p.m. to get Hill to surrender, according to Johnson.
Charges including attempted murder and aggravated assault are expected, according to Krasner.
President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday, “The Philadelphia shooter should never have been allowed to be on the streets. He had a long and very dangerous criminal record. Looked like he was having a good time after his capture, and after wounding so many police. Long sentence – must get much tougher on street crime!”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.