Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said that the gunman who shot six police officers trapped two other officers inside a building during a nearly eight-hour standoff on Wednesday was a career criminal who should have been behind bars.
The gunman’s prior arrest history included “a variety of gun charges,” robbery, reckless endangerment, DUI, perjury, resisting arrest, burglary, escape, illegally taunting a police animal, traffic and driving-related offenses, as well as “multiple charges for aggravated assault [and] for drugs,” the district attorney said.
Hill also served a “lengthy” federal prison sentence for weapons-related offenses, and served time on federal community supervision, Krasner told reporters.
Krasner said he did not know whether or not his office ever handled a possible probation violation hearing involving Hill, but noted that his office has never prosecuted a case against him while Krasner has been in office.
“I think it’s clear – this man should not have been on the streets in the sense that he obviously was a tremendous danger to the public and to law enforcement,” Krasner said. “But if you’re asking me do I believe that everyone in the system going back to 2007 and up until the present has a crystal ball, I do not.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to expect some level of perfect knowledge on the part of police or prosecutors, but it’s obvious…that this is someone who needed to be off the streets, and it is also clear that he had a very lengthy criminal record,” he added.
The investigation into the attack is ongoing, and formal charges have not been filed.
“It is pretty obvious that there should be charges of attempted murder, it’s pretty obvious there should be charges of aggravated assault…pretty obvious that there’s some serious firearms charges – including the fact that he was a felon,” Krasner said, adding that there were also “drugs involved.”
Federal and state agencies have been collaborating on the investigation, and formal charges will be forthcoming.
“There will be a lot of charges,” Krasner vowed. “These are more than enough charges so that Mr. Maurice Hill may never exit jail.”
Krasner said that he spoke with Hill over the phone during the standoff after he received a call from Hill’s attorney, Shaka Johnson.
The gunman was concerned that he would be killed if he left the home, and also had questions about what legal charges he could face, Krasner said.
“We were doing what we could to try to lower the volume, to bring more calm about, to get him to a more rational position,” he told reporters. “The last thing we wanted was to come out of this with officers going in to take him…and have them fired upon or killed or injured.”
Krasner praised Philadelphia police for how they handled the active shooter situation, and said he was not taking any credit for how the incident ended.
The tear gas was what finally drove Hill out of the home, the district attorney said.
“Despite good intentions, it wasn’t anything that I did,” he reiterated. “I truly believe this was just brilliant policing, and maybe a little bit of a miracle.”
Krasner also denied allegations that he was asked to leave the hospital when he went to speak with the wounded officers.
The district attorney’s press conference came shortly after a scathing statement was issued by U.S. Attorney William McSwain regarding Krasner’s history of anti-police statements and actions.
McSwain said he is “fed up with” the “culture of disrespect for law enforcement” that Krasner has “promoted and championed” during his time in office.
“It started with chants at the DA’s victory party – chants of ‘F--k the police’ and ‘No good cops in a racist system,’” McSwain wrote. “We’ve now endured over a year and a half of the worst kinds of slander against law enforcement – the DA routinely calls police and prosecutors corrupt and racist, even ‘war criminals’ that he compares to Nazis.”
The federal prosecutor denounced Krasner’s “vile rhetoric,” and said that he has placed local law enforcement officers at risk.
“It disgraces the Office of the District Attorney,” McSwain added. “And it harms the good people in the City of Philadelphia and rewards the wicked.”
Krasner has failed to enforce the city’s criminal laws, has implemented diversionary programs for weapons offenses, has pled down violent offenses, and has ignored “entire sections of the criminal code,” the federal prosecutor railed.
Because of Krasner’s lax prosecution, McSwain said his office has seen a 70 percent increase in violent crime cases as they try to pick up the slack.
“It is time to support law enforcement and to put the good people of this City first,” he wrote. “To the officers involved last night – those who were wounded and those who rushed to defend them – and to their families, I say thank you. The whole City thanks you. We owe you more than we can ever repay.”
The 36-year-old gunman’s attack began at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, when police attempted to serve a narcotics warrant at a residence in the 3700-block of North 15th Street, The Washington Post reported.
The situation “went awry almost immediately,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said, according to The Washington Post.
As soon as the officers got into the home, they were met by a barrage of bullets that forced them to return fire, KYW reported.
Officers dove through windows and out doorways to escape, but two of the officers remained trapped inside the home with the gunman.
The attacker continued to fire on police as they surrounded the outside of the building, and shot more officers.
Residents hid inside their homes and dove behind vehicles to shield themselves from the gunfire, The Washington Post reported.
Dramatic news helicopter footage showed an officer pouring blood on the street while running to a patrol car to be transported to the hospital, KYW reported.
A short while later, another wounded officer was seen being helped to run from the scene and then was also placed into a patrol car and transported away, according to WPVI.
Other officers crouched behind vehicles and exchanged gunfire with the attacker.
Approximately 80 children and infants were evacuated from daycare centers located just two blocks away from the standoff, The Washington Post reported.
During the gunfight, the suspect started live-streaming on social media, according to KYW. Authorities were able to work with the social media company to take the stream down.
“It was like a war — like a scene that you see in war,” one resident said, according to The Washington Post. “The guns, the fire, the noise — it was like bombs going off simultaneously at a time where people are having dinner.”
The officers trapped in the apartment had been pinned down for about five hours by the time SWAT was able to extricate them.
Three citizens were also rescued during the extrication, CNN reported.
“They kept us safe the whole time,” one of the women who was rescued said through tears. “The whole time, they kept us safe.”
Commissioner Ross said that he does not believe the shooter realized that SWAT was conducting the rescue mission due to the level of stealth the team used.
Meanwhile, the six officers with gunshot wounds were transported to Einstein Medical Center and Temple University Hospital, according to KYW.
Commissioner Ross said they were treated for their wounds and have all been released from the hospital, according to The Washington Post.
A seventh officer was injured in a collision while responding to the active shooter situation.
He remains hospitalized, but is in stable condition, KYW reported.
No citizens were hurt during the incident.
Shortly after midnight on Thursday, the gunman walked out with his hands raised after officers fired tear gas into the home, bringing the eight-hour standoff to an end, The Washington Post reported.
“It's nothing short of a miracle that we don’t have multiple officers killed today," Commissioner Ross said, according to NBC News.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he was “deeply troubled” to learn about the mass shooting of law enforcement officers.
"Tonight is another reminder of the selfless sacrifice of our law enforcement officers and first responders,” Wolf said. “We are praying for a peaceful resolution and the full recovery of all those injured.”