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Violence, Looting Erupt In Philly After Police Shoot Armed Suspect; 30 Cops Injured

Philadelphia, PA – At least 30 Philadelphia police officers were injured and nearly 40 people were arrested during the riots that erupted in the wake of the officer-involved shooting of a knife-wielding suspect on Monday afternoon.

The chaos began at approximately 4 p.m., when Philadelphia police received a report about a man with a weapon in the 6100-block of Locust Street, WNYW reported.

Two officers responded to the scene and encountered a suspect who was brandishing a knife.

Cell phone footage showed police as they scrambled to keep distance between themselves and the knife-wielding attacker.

Philadelphia Police spokesperson Sergeant Eric Gripp said the officers repeatedly ordered the suspect to drop the weapon, but that he instead “advanced towards the officers,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

As they backed away into the street, the suspect charged towards them with the blade, at which point police opened fire, the video showed.

Family members later identified the suspect as Walter Wallace Jr., The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

One of the officers rushed the wounded suspect to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Sgt. Gripp said.

Wallace’s father said the officers should have used a Taser instead of shooting his son, who he said was struck 10 times by bullets, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

He claimed Wallace had “mental issues,” and said that his mother had been “trying to defuse the situation” prior to the officer-involved shooting.

“Everyone is saying, ‘Don’t shoot him, he’s gonna put it down, we know him,’” witness Maurice Holloway told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Holloway said Wallace’s mother tried to stop her son, but that he brushed her off and began advancing on the officers.

“He turns and then you hear the shots,” the witness told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It was so many shots.”

Residents swarmed the officers immediately after the shooting and began yelling at them, cell phone footage showed.

The angry mob had grown by the time Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw arrived at the scene, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The crowd continued yelling at police and demanded to know why the officers opted to use deadly force.

“Why not a warning shot?” community organizer Arnett Woodall asked The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Why not a Taser? Why not a shot in the leg?”

“The city of Philadelphia can do better,” Woodall added.

Most of the group dispersed by approximately 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter protesters converged at Malcolm X Park at Pine Street and 51st Street, where they proceeded to march to the Philadelphia police station several blocks away, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Officers with riot shields positioned themselves behind metal barriers outside the station to defend against hours of confrontations with the crowd.

Rioters hurled bricks, rocks, and other objects at police as looting broke out throughout the city, WNYW reported.

A patrol car was set ablaze on 52nd Street during the night, according to a witness’s tweet.

At least one vehicle belonging to a television news crew was vandalized, and rioters smashed out multiple windows along Chestnut Street, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

As many as 200 people then made their way to the commercial district, where they damaged, looted, and destroyed businesses along 52nd Street from Market Street to Spruce Street.

Just before 1 a.m., rioters in a black pickup truck sped through a line of police who were trying to block a roadway, running over at least one officer in the process, cell phone footage showed.

“They ran that lady right over!” a witness said in the video, referring to a female officer.

The driver immediately sped away from the scene, but was stopped a short while later and taken into custody, reporter Shane Murphy tweeted.

According to police, the female officer suffered a broken leg during the attack and remains hospitalized, WNYW reported.

Police with riot gear swarmed the area and ultimately dispersed the mob, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nearly 40 people were arrested in connection with the widespread mayhem that overtook the city throughout the night, WNYW reported.

In addition to the hospitalized officer, 29 other officers suffered injuries due to being attacked by the rioters, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“My prayers are with the family and friends of Walter Wallace,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement on Monday night, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I have watched the video of this tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered.”

Kenney said he has spoken with Wallace’s family, that that he plans to “reach out to hear their concerns firsthand, and to answer their questions to the extent that I am able.”

Commissioner Outlaw assured the community that their questions “will be fully addressed by the investigation.”

“While at the scene this evening, I heard and felt the anger of the community. Everyone involved will forever be impacted,” she said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I will be leaning on what the investigation gleans to answer the many unanswered questions that exist. I also plan to join the Mayor in meeting with members of the community and members of Mr. Wallace’s family to hear their concerns as soon as it can be scheduled.”

Sgt. Gripp said that both of the officers involved in the fatal shooting were wearing bodycams, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

They have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, as per protocol.

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby spoke out in support of the officers in a statement.

“Our police officers are being vilified this evening for doing their job and keeping the community safe, after being confronted by a man with a knife,” McNesby said. “We support and defend these officers, as they too are traumatized by being involved in a fatal shooting.”

“We ask the public for its patience as investigators work to gather all the facts of this tragic incident in West Philadelphia today,” he added.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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