6 police shot in Philadelphia standoff that 'could have been far worse'
PHILADELPHIA — A gunman barricaded himself inside a Philadelphia rowhouse for 7½ hours, firing on police and wounding six in a standoff that trapped two officers and paralyzed a neighborhood, all while the commissioner and the shooter's attorney tried to negotiate a surrender.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross expressed amazement that the standoff, which began Wednesday when officers attempted to serve a drug warrant, ended with no one dead and no life-threatening injuries, despite the gunman firing over 100 rounds.
It "could have been far worse," Ross said Thursday outside the Philadelphia Police Department. "This was a very dynamic situation, one that I hope we never see again."
The gunman came out of the home after police used tear gas. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation and then placed in custody.
The tear gas prevented investigators from entering the house for much of Thursday, but members of the crime scene unit were seen moving in and out of it in the evening.
As officers flooded the scene, the situation grew chaotic at times. Police took to Twitter to ask media helicopters to pull back at the beginning of the standoff, saying they feared the gunman might be able to see police positions in the footage. People who had been blocked or pulled from their homes clamored for information, and at times, some onlookers shouted at or shoved officers. Many ignored orders by police to stay back, ducking under or stepping over police tape.
At one point, two men launched a drone, and when police tracked it down and confiscated it, a crowd of people already on edge shouted for the officers to pay attention to the shooter and not the drone.
A nearby day care center was locked down for hours and later evacuated, with police officers helping carry babies and two city buses set up where shaken children waited for their parents to pick them up.
While standoffs with police are not uncommon, the situation in Philadelphia drew particular attention because of how long gunfire was exchanged and the fact that the commissioner made the unusual decision to speak to the shooter directly and that two police officers were trapped during the standoff.
The suspect was identified by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner as Maurice Hill, 36. Krasner said Hill had an extensive criminal history, including drug, gun and robbery charges. Krasner said Hill should not have been on the streets but stopped short of saying there was any specific failure by law enforcement.
"I think it's fair to say the criminal justice system, imperfect as it is, did not stop this terrible incident," he told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
Pennsylvania prison officials said a man with the same name and date of birth served about 2½ years on drug charges and was paroled in 2006 and served more than a year for aggravated assault and before being released in 2013.
State court online court records indicate that man had multiple arrests in Philadelphia and adjacent Delaware County between 2001 and 2012, producing convictions that include perjury, fleeing and eluding, escape and weapons offenses.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain told reporters that Hill was prohibited from possessing firearms because of past convictions.
Hill's lawyer, Shaka Johnson, said Hill called him during the standoff asking for help surrendering. Johnson then called Krasner, and the two men patched in both Hill and the police commissioner, according to Krasner.