Wednesday, August 14, 2019

BREAKING NEWS: At least 6 Philadelphia officers wounded in shootout; police warn of active scene

At least six Philadelphia police officers were shot, one reportedly grazed in the head, in an ongoing shootout in the city's Nicetown neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon that has been unfolding for almost five hours.

Three officers were rushed to Temple University Hospital, officials told Fox 29.

One of those officers was released from the hospital later in the evening, while his fellow officers stood by and saluted him.

Three other officers were taken to Einstein Hospital, at least one of them was shot in the arm. All six officers were in stable condition and being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

"Fortunately, everybody is going to be okay," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told reporters on Wednesday, even as the shooter refused to surrender to officers during ongoing negotiations.

Philadelphia police staging as they respond to the active shooting situation. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Two other officers, including a police sergeant, were injured in an accident related to the emergency response and were being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

High-ranking police officials said two officers with the Narcotics Strike Force were serving a warrant at a multifamily home -- in what may have been a drug-related offense -- when a shooter opened fire at the home. The two officers were barricaded in separate rooms with as many as four suspects.

Hostage negotiators and a SWAT team were on the scene.

"Officers are attempting to communicate with the shooter; imploring him to surrender and avoid further injuries," Philadelphia Police Department Sgt. Eric Gripp tweeted.

Ross said that some suspects "were taken into custody initially and there may be someone in custody inside [the building] but there's no indication that the shooter is trying to surrender." He added that police were confident the shooter was still alive given the frequency of shots still being fired, but police have not been able to speak to the shooter yet.

Law enforcement officials continued to make repeated attempts to talk to the shooter, communicating over a loudspeaker as well as trying to reach him by phone, Ross said. Police also were trying to work with a person close to the shooter to make contact with him, but so far, the suspect has answered the phone but didn't speak. Fox News has learned that that liaison is the shooter's girlfriend.

"He continues to fire rounds out of a window," Ross said.

The SWAT team attempted to enter the building but were forced to retreat because of heavy gunfire through the first-floor ceiling up towards a higher floor of the building, as well as out the window, a law enforcement official told Fox News.

Hundreds of rounds of gunfire could be heard throughout the afternoon. The gunman was armed with an AR15 and several handguns, officials told Fox News.

Ross said many rounds of ammunition struck the SWAT truck and buildings across the street and "right now we're not sure" if it's just one shooter.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he's "angry about someone having all that weaponry and all that firepower."

Officials negotiating with the suspect tried to assure him that he would not be harmed if he surrendered, to no avail.

"We're just trying to do as much as we can to resolve this peacefully," Ross said, adding that it's a "very volatile situation that is still unfolding."

Four women who were on the second floor of the building as the shootout continued were rescued by police officers and led to safety.

“I thank God for these cops. They’re good people. Don’t say nothing bad about them, they kept us safe the whole time,” one of the women told KYW-TV.

President Trump was made aware of the unfolding scene in Philadelphia, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley.

 Law enforcement with a gun drawn in the Nicetown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

“The President has been briefed on the shooting in Philadelphia and continues to monitor the situation,” Gidley said.

The situation is being described as an active shooting scene that began around 4:30 p.m.

Officers called for backup frantically saying "shots fired, shots fired at North 15th street."

Police standing outside a house as they investigated the active shooting situation.

Video footage of the scene showed a massive police presence in the neighborhood as hundreds of responding police officers and police cars from the Philadelphia Police Department as well as special agents from the Philadelphia Field Division and the FBI blocked off the streets, crouching behind cars, many with their guns drawn, in search of a possible gunman, according to reports by WCAU.

"The Attorney General has been briefed on the current shooting incident in #Philadelphia and is monitoring the situation," Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.

One officer appeared injured and was taken away in a police car. Video also showed two other officers carrying a man and putting them in the back of a police car, according to reports by The Associated Press.

Police are cautioning the community to stay indoors as gunshots continue to ring out in the neighborhood.

Philadelphia has been riddled with drug-related crime with several major busts occurring since the beginning of 2019.

U.S. officials seized over $1 billion worth of cocaine in June from a ship at a Philadelphia port, in a bust that the U.S. attorney’s office called one of the largest in American history.

One month later, law enforcement officials seized six kilos of heroin and fentanyl, two kilos of cocaine, five handguns, one rifle, $200,000 cash, as well as other drug paraphernalia after a 3-month long wiretap investigation on the Kensignton neighborhood in Philadelphia.

In March, drug dogs sniffed out 1,185 pounds of cocaine worth about $38 million, a bust that was recognized at the time as the city’s largest seizure of the drug in more than two decades.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. Fox News' Rick Leventhal and The Associated Press contributed to this report.