Cop is wounded in Chester; gunman shot dead

Armor-wearing Chester police get ready to enter house after officer was shot yesterday afternoon.
Armor-wearing Chester police get ready to enter house after officer was shot yesterday afternoon.
Posted: June 30, 2010

When is this going to stop?

That's what Chester residents were asking themselves yesterday after the all-too-familiar "pop, pop, pop" of gunshots again rang out in Delaware County's besieged city - sending a cop to the hospital and a gunman to the morgue.

"This is Beirut! This is a war zone!" Latisha Jenkins said as she sat on a Potter Street porch around the corner from the taped-off crime scene.

Yesterday's shoot-out near Rose and Madison streets came 10 days after Chester Mayor Wendell Butler Jr. declared a state of emergency and implemented an all-ages nighttime curfew in five sections of the city. Sunday night, a man's bullet-riddled body was discovered in Highland Gardens, the fifth homicide this month.

Police say Luis Rodriguez, a Chester Housing Authority officer who also works for Chester police, was responding to a burglary about 4:10 p.m. yesterday when he was shot in the arm and rushed to Crozer-Chester Medical Center with a non-life-threatening injury.

Two men running from the house then pointed their guns at responding officers and the cops opened fire, killing one and wounding the other, authorities said. A third man, believed to have been shot by one of the gunmen, also was taken to the hospital, according to the Delaware County District Attorney's Office. None of the three was identified.

Law-enforcement agencies and SWAT team personnel swarmed the Rose Street house and blocked off several blocks as hundreds of residents poured out of their homes.

"It's a shame that all of us have to suffer because of the few people that are doing this," said Nataya Freeman, who said she is afraid to let her 6-year-old daughter outside. "The emergency state hasn't done anything. Now, it just happens during the daytime."

The city is divided between residents who support the curfew as a last-ditch effort to stop the murders and those who say it violates their civil rights. Some are afraid to speak out, for fear of retaliation from the street thugs who run rampant in some sections of Chester.

Last week, the City Council extended Butler's state of emergency for 30 days, prohibiting children and adults from going outside after 9 p.m. "without a legitimate reason" in five high-crime areas. Yesterday's shooting did not occur in one of the five emergency zones.

There have been 12 homicides in Chester this year.

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