Philadelphia, PA – Community members and organizations have teamed up with the local police union to offer a reward for information leading to the apprehension of the criminal responsible for defacing a memorial honoring a slain Philadelphia police sergeant.
Philadelphia Police Sergeant Robert Wilson was murdered in the line of duty while attempting to stop an armed robbery at a video game store in 2015, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The 30-year-old sergeant was conducting a security check at the strip mall where the business was located, and was inside the store when two armed assailants stormed in.
The veteran officer announced himself and drew the gunmen’s fire away from customers during the shootout that ensued.
Over 50 rounds were fired during the gun battle.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that Sgt. Wilson continued to fire at both gunmen, even after he was hit by multiple rounds, WPVI reported at the time.
“After seeing the video of what happened in that store, he redefined what being a hero is all about," Commissioner Ramsey said.
The eight-year veteran-of-the-force was a married father of two, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
A mural honoring Sgt. Wilson was created in the 2900-block of Ridge Avenue in 2017, WPVI reported.
According to police, an unidentified suspect used red spray paint to write the letters “ACAB” across the artwork sometime on Thursday morning, WCAU reported.
The acronym stands for “All Cops Are Bastards,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Denise Hooks, who owns the building where the mural is located, said she was appalled when she saw the vandalized mural.
“It’s terrible because I feel like his mother got to see this, his son got to see this, his sister has to see this and they already buried their son, their father, their brother,” Hooks told KYW. “We loved Officer Wilson. He was a hero.”
Sgt. Wilson’s sister, Shaki’ra Wilson-Burroughs, released a statement on her family’s behalf on Thursday.
“The ignorance and disrespect shown toward police is at an all time high,” Wilson-Burroughs said. “Learning of the blatant disrespect that has been repeatedly shown toward my brother has resulted in an indescribable emotional reaction.”
“WE ARE LIVID!” she continued, adding that her brother deserved to be respected for putting “his life on the line to protect and save the lives” of those inside the store the day he was murdered.
Wilson-Burroughs said that she believes the vandal was bolstered by District Attorney Larry Krasner’s decision to “offer a backdoor plea” to the gunmen who killed Sgt. Wilson.
In exchange for their guilty pleas, Krasner agreed not to seek the death penalty, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“If the DA, top persecutor of this city, can tarnish the efforts and life of a slain officer while backing criminals then, why should any other layman warrant any real respect and keep their memory alive?” Wilson-Burroughs wrote, according to KYW. “It has enhanced the ignorance and disrespect shown toward our officers as the consequences of such are as minuscule as a slap on the wrist.”
The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) offered a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of the vandal, and other community members and organizations soon followed suit, WPVI reported.
"It's sickening and disgusting that some low-life would deface the mural of hero and fallen-officer, Robert Wilson III," FOP Lodge #5 President John McNesby told the news outlet. "We will never forget Rob's bravery, courage and valor when he saved lives inside that GameStop store."
The reward had grown to $32,500 as of early Saturday morning.