Cop dodges bullet, shoots armed burglar

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Police on Wakeling Street near Castor Avenue, where they say an armed burglar was killed by an officer early yesterday.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Police on Wakeling Street near Castor Avenue, where they say an armed burglar was killed by an officer early yesterday.
Posted: August 04, 2014

A SPLIT-SECOND decision likely saved the life of a Philadelphia police officer and two Northeast Philly residents - and cost a gun-toting burglar his.

The tense scene played out in the middle of the night on Wakeling Street near Castor Avenue in Frankford.

A 15th District patrol cop thumped on the front door of a property on the block after receiving a report of a burglar alarm going off about 12:45 a.m. yesterday, police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said.

A man appeared at the door and assured the officer that nothing was wrong, Stanford said.

Instinct and training kicked in. The officer asked the man for identification, only to see him push a woman to the door instead.

She produced an ID that proved she lived in the house.

"The officer asked her if she was OK," Stanford said. "She said yes, but she also tried to indicate that everything was not OK."

Sensing trouble, the cop again asked the man for ID - and then it happened.

"The male produced a handgun and pointed it right at the officer's head," Stanford said.

The cop swatted the gun away, and the man squeezed off a shot. Somehow, the officer managed to pull out his firearm, and wound the suspect several times.

The 41-year-old man, whose name wasn't released, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Stanford said the shooter and an accomplice had waited outside the Wakeling Street property earlier in the night and ambushed the woman and her companion when they arrived home.

The two victims weren't harmed, and the shooter's accomplice fled on foot.

Stanford said the shooter had 12 prior arrests for crimes that included robbery, accepting stolen property and firearms violations.

"He probably would have added homicide to that list if he could have," Stanford said. "We're fortunate that we're not planning a police funeral right now."


On Twitter: @dgambacorta

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