Two thugs shooting into an occupied car in South Philadelphia early yesterday turned their guns on the police officers who interrupted the ambush, leading to a roving shootout between the gunmen and one officer
When the gunfire subsided, police caught and arrested one man and rushed another to the hospital with critical injuries. A third gunman remains on the loose, and detectives are investigating whether any others were involved.
The drama started about midnight, when police on patrol at 28th and Wharton streets heard gunshots, police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said. Around the corner on 27th Street, the officers saw two gunmen shooting into a maroon Jeep, Evers said. A uniformed officer leaped from his marked cruiser and demanded the shooters drop their firearms. Instead, the gunmen turned and began blasting at the officer, Evers said.
The officer, 45, a 21-year veteran, returned fire. The criminal couple sprinted away on Sears Street, where they again exchanged gunfire with the officer, Evers said. The patrolman then chased one into an alleyway off Sears Street near 28th, where they swapped bullets a third time. That gunman was able to escape. The officer wasn’t injured.
Other officers responding to an assist call found a man in a stolen Pontiac minivan on Sears Street near 27th and a discarded Glock in the street nearby, Evers said. The gun had an extended magazine with only 10 of its 30 rounds left, Evers added.
That man, Wendell Taylor, 28, of Manton Street near 24th, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and gun offenses. He has 19 prior arrests, including attempted murder and drug offenses, according to records.
Other officers swarming the scene found another man slumped outside the Jeep. That man, shot in the chest, stomach and right leg, remains in critical condition at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania.
Police expect to file criminal charges against him too, because ballistics evidence shows whoever was inside the Jeep was firing back at the two gunmen outside, Evers said. It’s unclear whether there was more than one occupant of the Jeep.
“There’s probably 80 to 100 pieces of ballistic evidence out there,” Evers said. “A lot of bullets were flying. Just being in that police officer’s shoes was probably a traumatic experience. Thank God he wasn’t shot.”
The officer involved was placed on desk pending the outcome of the investigation, which is routine in police-involved shootings.