Officer shot, man killed in robbery The suspect who died was believed to have just robbed a bank. He fired a shot that skimmed the officer's lip. Officer shot, man killed in robbery

Posted: October 18, 2006

A mid-morning gun battle following a bank robbery in South Philadelphia yesterday left three officers injured, a woman who had been inside her house nearby with a gunshot wound to the leg, and a robbery suspect dead.

The robbery suspect, who had been hiding in the getaway car, released a barrage of bullets, with the first one aimed at veteran Officer Ronald Jann. Jann leaned back as the bullet skimmed his upper lip and damaged his front teeth without causing serious injury, Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson said.

"He realizes he's been blessed today," Johnson said after visiting with Jann and his family at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. "A couple of inches either way and he would have been much more seriously hurt."

Jann, 38, a 17-year veteran and father of three, was treated and released.

The shoot-out began after the suspect, whose name was not immediately available, jumped out of a car in the 200 block of Gerritt Street as police were closing in about 10:30 a.m. The suspect exchanged gunfire with police in a running gun battle that sent bullets flying toward nearby homes. Cheryl Kobielnik, 48, was shot in the leg while standing in the doorway.

Within minutes, the wounded suspect and two alleged accomplices were apprehended while Kobielnik, Jann and two other officers were rushed to Jefferson, police said.

The gun battle trails months of a particularly violent time in the city that has left 320 slain so far this year. In addition, city police have killed 18 suspects, the most since 1994, when 18 were also killed, according to the FBI.

The bank robbery that preceded the shoot-out occurred about 10:15 a.m., when at least two men entered the PNC Bank in the 300 block of Packer Avenue and demanded cash at gunpoint, police said.

A teller passed them an undisclosed amount of money. Imbedded in the cash, however, was a tracking device, called a "bloodhound," Johnson said.

The device allowed officers inside Police Headquarters to track the money. Soon, officers converged on the 200 block of Gerritt, where the robbers had stopped.

Initially, Johnson said, officers noticed one man acting suspiciously. As they approached, two men ran, leading to a short chase and street scuffle before they were apprehended. Officer Robert Sharp suffered a minor hand injury while Officer Bryan Coyle sustained a wrist injury, said Capt. Benjamin Naish of the Public Affairs Unit.

Meanwhile, police spotted a silver vehicle they believed was the getaway car, and Jann approached, Johnson said.

Inside, the third suspect was leaning back in the driver's seat, attempting to hide, Johnson said. As Jann opened the door, he noticed that the suspect was cradling a gun over his chest.

Jann leaned back just as the suspect leveled the weapon and fired, Johnson said, sliding his index finger across the front of his mouth describing how the bullet sliced between the officer's lips.

"The officer was very, very, very lucky," Johnson said while he stood with Mayor Street outside the hospital.

The mayor reiterated the need for gun-control laws, and said of Jann: "He was very grateful. He acknowledged the fact that he was very fortunate to come out of this in this way. It could have been much, much worse."

At the scene, fellow officers initially had helped Jann until medics arrived and rushed to help all those injured, including the gunman, who was shot several times. He was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:35 p.m.

Naish said police were trying to confirm the identity of the gunman, who was not carrying ID, and the two other suspects.

The shoot-out sent passersby running for cover.

Cookie Hopkins, 48, was making her bed on the second floor of her rowhouse on Philip Street, where Gerritt dead-ends, when she heard sirens, then voices outside.

She said she looked out the bedroom window and saw a police officer on Gerritt pointing toward a man trying to hide at the opposite corner. As the officers walked west, the man started shooting and police fired back, Hopkins said.

"There was such a flurry of shots," she said.

After the gunfire ended, she saw an officer bent over and other officers helping him as the suspect was apprehended.

Two officers went into Hopkins' house and scoured the backyard for a discarded gun, she said. They found it on the roof of another house two doors away.

In all, police said, they recovered two guns and money.

A 30-year-old woman at Pennsport Deli at Wilder Street and Moyamensing Avenue said she was outside when she saw a silver sedan roaring by and gave police a description as the gunfire erupted.

"I'd say 15 to 20 shots - pow, pow - it was nonstop," said the woman, who would not give her name.

She said Sacred Heart School, where her 10-year-old son is a student, went into lockdown as police rushed to the area, cordoned off three separate crime scenes, and put up markers for shell casings, bullet holes and other evidence.

The deli owner, who identified himself as Stan, 45, said he saw police apprehend one person at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, at Reed and Moyamensing.

"He was holding a bunch of stuff in his hands," he said. "The cops got on top of him."

Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 215-854-2641 or bboyer@phillynews.com.

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