The kindest cop: Officer Moses Walker mourned by many - even those he'd put in jail

Family, friends and supporters of Officer Moses Walker Jr. gather Sunday evening for a vigil at Woodstock Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, where the 19-year veteran was shot.
Family, friends and supporters of Officer Moses Walker Jr. gather Sunday evening for a vigil at Woodstock Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, where the 19-year veteran was shot. (RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: August 21, 2012

4:08 p.m. UPDATE: The reward for information leading to Officer Moses Walker Jr.'s killer has been increased to $88,000, officials announced. Police also released surveillance video that they say shows two suspects in Walker's death. 

Here's the original story as published Monday, Aug. 20, 2012

OFFICER Moses Walker Jr. was the kind of cop you'd recall fondly - even if he's the one who snapped your mug shot and closed the holding-cell door behind you.

Thomas Henry Massaro, a former Philadelphia housing director who attended Sunday's candlelight vigil for the slain officer, said two young men at a block party on Cecil B. Moore Avenue immediately recognized Walker when news broke that he'd been gunned down in their neighborhood.

The pair recalled a night in the past when they'd run afoul of the law.

"They put their heads down and said it was the worst night of their lives. They'd been arrested. But they said he was so kind to them and treated them with respect," Massaro said. "I just thought it was incredibly touching, from the boys who met him through an arrest. He was the one [who] put them in the jailhouse. They said it reverently."

Walker, 40, a 19-year veteran, was shot around 6 a.m. Saturday on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 20th Street. It happened just after he had left his overnight shift at the 22nd Police District about four blocks away, at 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue in North Philadelphia. He was pronounced dead at Hahnemann University Hospital shortly afterward, at 6:23 a.m.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said it's believed Walker was on his way to catch a SEPTA bus home. Another officer had offered Walker a ride, Ramsey said, but Walker declined, saying, "It's not bad out. I'll walk."

Investigators suspect it was a robbery. Ramsey said Walker drew his firearm, but was struck three times before he could get a shot off.

"It's a tragic loss," Ramsey said. "Every time I saw him, he was really upbeat. He wouldn't hurt a fly. He was a very gentle man, very religious."

Walker's mother, siblings and other relatives gathered at the scene of the shooting Sunday for a sunset vigil. Dozens of cops attended, some helping light yellow candles in Styrofoam cups. The mood shifted back and forth between grief and rage.

"Whoever did it, you're gonna get caught!" shouted Walker's brother, Anthony, in between sobs. "My brother ain't hurt nobody. Anybody that know my brother know he's all about love."

"We are now taking the lives of those who are supposed to protect us when we can't protect us," said Ra-Sean Beyah of Men United for a Better Philadelphia. "If you ain't got a problem with that, you need to pray real hard. Very hard."

Earlier Sunday, at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, at 20th Street and Lehigh Avenue, the Rev. Michael King remembered Walker, who attended church there for about a year. He asked those in attendance to fight against the "demonic spirit going through our city."

Lucille Brown, 73, a member of the church, had sat next to Walker the previous Sunday. "The seat is now empty," she said.

Brown, who knew Walker for about 15 years, was instrumental in bringing him to Deliverance Evangelistic after his former church in Brewerytown, where he was a deacon, closed. "He never boasted," she said, adding that she saw him in his police uniform only twice.

Carrie Hartsfield, 61, an usher at the church, said that about two weeks ago, Walker, who only knew her as the usher in his aisle, brought her a bouquet of lavender and yellow orchids. "He told me I was a nice person with a beautiful smile," she said.

Detective Lawrence Richardson, a member of the church who is assigned to the police Homeland Security Unit, said that Walker was one of his training officers when they worked in the 23rd District. Walker was "a very good guy, gentleman. He just had a very good spirit," he said.

Most recently, Walker was a "turnkey" officer in the 22nd District, where he fingerprinted, photographed and processed prisoners who were arrested and monitored them in a holding cell.

Capt. Roland Lee, commanding officer of the 22nd District, graduated in the same academy class as the fallen cop 19 years ago.

"He was a quiet guy, dependable, reliable," Lee said. "He was well-liked by a lot of people."

Walker had wounds to his chest, stomach, hand and back, but a couple of them may have been caused by the same bullet, Ramsey said. He was found facedown and was dressed in civilian clothes, having changed out of his police uniform. Walker's gun was under his body.

"Everybody's in shock," Lee said. "The guy completes his tour of duty and he's walking home and he's shot to death."

Walker entered the Police Academy in 1993. After first patrolling Center City, he was assigned to the 23rd District in North Philly in 1994. (The 23rd is now part of the 22nd District.)

Walker is believed to have lived in an apartment building in the River Park section of West Philadelphia. Funeral arrangements were pending Sunday night.

A $69,500 reward is being offered to help find the two suspects whom police said they were looking for Monday morning.

Tipsters can call 9-1-1, and can submit an anonymous tip at phillypolice.com, by calling 215-686-TIPS (8477), texting PPDTIP (773847), or emailing tips@phillypolice.com.

- Staff writer Morgan Zalot contributed to this report.


Contact William Bender at 215-854-5255 or benderw@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @wbender99.

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