Philadelphia, PA – A manhunt is underway for the gunman who opened fire on a plainclothes Philadelphia police officer on Tuesday night.
The officer was sitting in his unmarked patrol vehicle near the intersection of Kingsessing Avenue and 60th Street when the unidentified suspect approached him at approximately 6:40 p.m., WCAU reported.
The gunman, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt that was pulled tightly around his face, began firing at the driver’s side of the officer’s vehicle from about 30 feet away, according to WPVI.
The shooter hit the officer’s unmarked SUV at least twice, then took off on foot, WCAU reported.
The officer was not injured in the attack, and police said he didn’t have time to return fire.
He drove a short distance away from the scene as additional officers and a SWAT unit set up a perimeter and started searching for the gunman.
"This individual slipped away,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said, according to WPVI. “We don't know how he got away because we set up a perimeter pretty quickly.”
The shooter was described as a black male who stands 6 feet, 1 inch tall, WCAU reported.
He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a gray hoodie.
The gunman may also be linked to a homicide that occurred on Friday, approximately a mile away from where the officer was attacked.
Investigators recovered multiple spent shell casings at the scene.
"When the officer got fired upon, he believed he was shot at ten times," Chief Inspector Small told WCAU. "But we did find eight spent shell casings so we know at least eight shots were fired from a semi-automatic weapon."
"He was sitting in the driver’s seat, so he's very, very lucky that he was not struck by gunfire," Chief Inspector Small told WPVI.
Investigators developed a “person of interest” overnight, but no one has been taken into custody yet, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter told KYWN on Wednesday.
“It’s our belief at this time that it was not known to the shooter that that was…a police officer,” Commissioner Coulter told reporters. “I don’t know what prompted him to shoot at that person, but there’s no indication at this time that they knew that he was a police officer.”
The commissioner said that the attack “highlights how dangerous the job is,” even when officers are out of uniform or working undercover.
“You’re putting yourself in harm’s way when you’re out doing investigations, and it’s a testament to the men and women who still go out every day and do the job knowing that.”
Witness Tammy Harris said that she had left her vehicle parked outside just moments before the shooting occurred, WCAU reported.
Afterwards, she discovered that her car was riddled with bullet holes, WPVI reported.
“I just got out the car,” Harris explained to WCAU. “Kids were out, people were walking – someone could’ve gotten hurt!”
“All I could do is look at the car and say, ‘Thank God I came out alive,’” she added.