PHILADELPHIA — For hours, bullets flew and gunpowder wafted through the streets of North Philadelphia.
Police officers trying to serve a narcotics warrant entered a row house in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood Wednesday afternoon. As they got toward the kitchen area, a man fired multiple rounds, forcing some officers to escape through the window, authorities said.
But others got trapped in the house with the gunman after he barricaded himself. As he traded gunfire with police outside, bullets ricocheted on the pavement, sending officers crouching behind police cars.
Six officers were wounded by the time the suspect surrendered outside almost eight hours later.
“We do know this guy came actually outside with a gun … so this could have been even more dangerous and volatile if not for the professionalism of SWAT” officers, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said.
Mayor Jim Kenney said he’s thankful no lives were lost, but is “a little angry about someone having all that weaponry and all that firepower.”
“But we’ll get to that another day,” the mayor said. “It’s about the officers and their families right now.”
The suspect called an attorney for help during the standoff
Ross identified the suspect as Maurice Hill. The police chief praised an attorney who had worked with Hill for helping end the standoff.
“I gave his attorney, Shaka Johnson, a lot of credit that he came and he was able to certainly engage him in conversation much longer,” Ross said.
Johnson told CNN affiliate KYW that he is Hill’s former attorney, and that he received a call from Hill at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday while he was watching the drama unfold on TV.
Johnson said the suspect told him he needed help.
“I realized who it was. The game for me became getting him out of there safely,” Johnson told KYW.
“He did not want this to end violently. … I told him you got to surrender now.”
Authorities had to use tear gas to get the suspect out of the house, the police chief said. And because tear gas still wafting in the air Thursday morning, investigators haven’t been able to go inside the home.
“It will be active scene for a number of hours,” Ross said.
Three hours after the first shots
The shooting started about 4:30 p.m. after officers entered the home. More than three hours after the first shots, the suspect showed no signs of surrendering, police said.
Temple University’s Health Sciences Center campus was put on lockdown briefly as police secured the area. Concern grew for two officers trapped in the house with the gunman as police cars and officers in tactical gear swarmed the neighborhood.
“We’ve got a pretty horrible situation unfolding, and you hear me say unfolding because it is not resolved,” the police chief said at the time.
Negotiators tried to communicate with the suspect, but he was picking up the phone and not responding, Ross said. The suspect’s attorney joined a phone call to reassure him police won’t harm him, authorities said.
Five hours after the first shots
As the sun set and the standoff dragged on, the mayor said he was listening to police radio transmissions. Officers in the house were whispering because they didn’t want the shooter to hear them, he said.
Five hours after the standoff started, a SWAT team rescued two officers and three others trapped inside the row house, the police commissioner said. CNN affiliate KYW reported the officers were trapped on the second floor while the shooter was on the first floor.
“They were able to use stealth to do it,” the mayor said. He said the shooter appeared unaware of the rescue mission.
Eight hours after the first shots
Shortly after midnight, authorities announced the suspect’s capture.
All six officers suffered injuries that are not life threatening and have been released from an area hospital, police said.
The Philadelphia mayor called out the NRA and demanded a resolution to the nation’s gun crisis, saying officers need help keeping numerous weapons out of criminals’ hands.
“Our officers deserve to be protected and they don’t deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with an unlimited supply of weapons and an unlimited supply of bullets. It’s disgusting and we got to do something about it … quickly,” the mayor said. “This government, both on federal and state level, don’t want to do anything about getting these guns off the streets and getting them out of the hands of criminals.”