Officers took cover behind cars and blocked off surrounding streets as they were fired upon by the unidentified shooter.
At least six Philadelphia police officers were shot in a standoff on Wednesday and another two are trapped inside the house where the gunman is holed up in North Philly.
A large police presence responded to a shooting incident at about 4:30 p.m. local time in a residential area of the Nicetown section of the city. One male shooter was still inside a residence in what police described as an active situation.
Police said that the incident began when a narcotics officer attempted to serve a warrant at the address. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Wednesday that officers were already inside and in the rear of the building when the gunman opened fire, forcing them to escape a barrage of bullets through windows and doors.
Officers took cover behind cars and blocked off surrounding streets as they were fired upon by the unidentified shooter. Three hours after the shooting began, police said they were attempting to negotiate the gunman’s surrender, but he was still intermittently firing at officers.
Ross said that he was concerned about a “potential hostage” situation as two officers are trapped inside the house with the gunman.
“We believe they’re OK and I’m not going to say much more about that right now out of concern for their safety,” Ross said. “We believe that this male is in a certain part of the building. I won’t tell you where they are, where he is, so that I don’t endanger the officers on the scene in any way.”
Ross said that a very volatile situation was unfolding and that the gunman seems to have no intention of surrendering. Police have worked with family to call the shooter, but he has not spoken to officers.
Philadelphia Police Department said that six officers were shot and taken to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. One officer was hit with a graze to the head but is expected to survive, Ross said.
Other offices were injured in a car accident at a nearby intersection while responding to the scene.
Mayor Jim Kenney told reporters Wednesday that he spoke with some of the wounded officers and was grateful the injuries weren’t more severe.
“I’m a little angry about somebody having all that weaponry and all that firepower, but we’ll get to that another day,” Kenney said. “It’s all about the officers and their families right now. God bless them and God save them all.”
A witness who lived close to the shooting said that she heard a series of shots fired, what felt like 100 gunshots, and could smell what seemed to be gunpowder as the shootout unfolded. The unidentified woman told NBC Philadelphia that it felt “like a war.”
The nearby campus for Temple University’s Health Sciences Center had been on lockdown as the situation unfolded, but the shelter in place has since been lifted.
Police evacuated area residences and businesses as the situation developed.
Yvonne Thomas-Curry, owner of Precious Babies Learning Academy, said that Philadelphia about 80 children were evacuated from the nearby daycare. She said the children, who range from 6 weeks old to 10 years old, were safe and warned parents to stay away until the area was cleared.
“We’re all pretty much together, we’re not scattered,” Thomas-Curry said. “They’re all together now so we can closely monitor them and keep them away from the windows.”
SEPTA, the city’s public transit provider, reported that it will temporarily bypass Hunting Park, Erie, and Allegheny stations, all located in the surrounding area of the shooting.
President Donald Trump has been briefed on the standoff, according to a White House pool report. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also said he was aware of the situation and offered support to local police.
“Praying for the recovery of the police officers who were injured in the line of duty and the safety of others responding to this incident,” Wolf said in a tweet.