Just three weeks into the new year, the third fatal shooting by Philadelphia Police took place early Saturday, when 16-year-old Tyronn Sparks was shot and killed, cops said.

Last year, there were 22 such shootings.

Police said Sparks pointed a sawed-off shotgun at the officer who shot him.

According to police spokesman Capt. Benjamin Naish, officers responded to a call of a possible armed robbery on Torresdale Avenue near Devereaux Street in Tacony about 12:30 a.m.

On the way to the location, two officers observed two youths matching a general description of the pair wanted in connection with the robbery, police said.

"The officers stopped to investigate and question the two males," Naish said.

When police approached, Sparks fled while his companion, identified by police as his older brother, stayed behind, where he was arrested but later released after questioning, police said.

Naish said additional investigation indicated that the two brothers had not been involved in the alleged armed robbery to which police were responding.

But Naish said that the younger Sparks fled to the "rear common driveway alley on Ditman Street" near Robbins.

As one of the officers pursued Sparks, police said, the situation quickly escalated when Sparks pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and aimed it at the officer.

"The officer fired multiple rounds, and one round struck the male in the buttocks," Naish said.

Sparks was taken to Frankford Hospital-Torresdale, where he died about 1:30 a.m.

The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative duty - as is standard - until the investigation is complete, Naish said.

The Internal Affairs and Homicide divisions are handling the investigation.

Last Sunday, police shot a man who they said may have been mentally ill on Market Street near 9th after he allegedly lunged at police with a knife. The victim, later identified as Charles Kelley, 26, had broken into several City Hall offices earlier, police said.

On New Year's Day, police shot Bryan Jones, 20, in Overbrook as he ran unarmed from a hail of bullets on 59th Street near Haddington, where he had intended to pick up his nephew.