A veteran police officer was killed and a second officer was wounded during a shooting at Philadelphia International Airport.
The Airport Unit officers, aged 50 and 60, clocked in for their shifts shortly after 11pm on Thursday, NBC reported. While parking their patrol car in the garage for the airport’s Terminal D, they spotted several people breaking into a vehicle.
When the officers confronted them, the suspects reportedly pulled out guns and opened fire, Interim Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Stanford said during a press conference.
The 50-year-old officer was struck multiple times in the upper torso and his partner was shot in the arm. They were both taken to Methodist Hospital and later transported to different medical facilities.
The unnamed 50-year-old officer, who had 22 years with the Philadelphia Police Department, was later pronounced dead at the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. The 60-year-old officer was treated at Jefferson University Hospital and remains in stable condition.
“A numb, numb moment for us, to again encounter something like this,” Commissioner Standford said, according to the Associated Press. “We just had three officers shot last week. And then this tonight, so you can imagine what we feel. We can imagine what this department is going through. And quite frankly, how the city should be feeling.”
It remains unclear whether the officers returned fire during the shooting. At the time of the shooting, one of the officers was uniformed and the other was partially uniformed, law enforcement said.
Police believe that the suspects fled the scene in a dark-coloured Dodge Durango.
Shortly after the shooting, an 18-year-old was dropped off at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia by the same model of car and was later pronounced dead. The commissioner also said that the 18-year-old was “very similar to the suspect description.”
Authorities are now investigating whether he was involved in the Thursday night shooting.
“We can’t confirm at this point in time whether or not that individual is involved,” the commissioner said. “We don’t know. It’s a good possibility. Very similar to the suspect description but that’s something we can’t confirm at this point. We’re still investigating.”
The shooting comes just a week after three Philadelphia officers were injured while responding to a domestic violence call. During that incident, the officers returned fire, fatally shooting the 42-year-old man who had injured them.
Commissioner Stanford said the slain officer is survived by a wife and a child.
“As you can imagine, heartbroken, devastated, that their family member is not coming home tonight,” he said.