It played out like something out of a movie this week.
A firefight between an armed man on a bus that toted several passengers, including some children, and police ensued in Philadelphia, resulting in both police and the suspect getting shot.
A Philadelphia police officer was struck in the arm and a gunman was critically hurt as the gun battle erupted outside of the SEPTA bus that was full of passengers along a busy street in the Wissinoming section Thursday morning.
Police had initially responded to a report of a man with a gun on Comly Street near Torresdale Avenue around 10:00 a.m. on Thursday.
One of the officers had noticed a man who had matched the gunman’s description while he was boarding the bus, according to police. In turn, the officer had notified additional officers within the 15th District, who were then able to spot the bus roughly a block away on Torresdale near Howell Street.
It was at that point that officers responded and made measures to block the busses path.
Once the path of travel had been blocked off, officers on scene had made their way over to the bus entrance. The armed man then pointed a gun at the officers after they boarded the bus, according to Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kinebrew.
When the firearm was brandished threateningly toward the officers, they had tactfully retreated away from the bus, but that did not deter the gunman from following them on their way out.
The gunman at that point began firing at the retreating officers, thus prompting the officers to return fire at the suspect.
During the melee a third 15th District officer, later identified as 37-year-old Donald Revill, got into a “tussle” with the gunman, wrestling him to the ground.
During the struggle that ensued, Officer Revill sustained some injury, getting shot in his right forearm according to Kinebrew. Even though the officer was shot, the injury was far from critical, as he was awake and talking while he was being treated for the gunshot wound at Jefferson Torresdale Hospital.
After all was said and done, officer Revill was able to walk out of the hospital later that afternoon.
Per the investigation thus far, it was noted that each of the two initially responding officers on scene had fired collectively three shots toward the suspect after he began shooting toward them.
The unidentified 54-year-old gunman was struck several times through the body and is currently being treated at Temple University Hospital where as of now he has been listed in critical condition for said wounds.
What had alerted officers to the scene was the bus driver, when he opted to utilize the marquee emblazoned on the side of the bus to read the message to all that saw “Call 911”.
The tactful thinking of the bus driver undoubtedly saved numerous lives that day. The resulting action also prompted to activate the SEPTA’s emergency center as well.
Approximately fifteen people were on the bus at the time, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said. None of them were hurt from the skirmish. After the passengers were allowed off the bus, they described what they heard and saw, including several gunshots being fired.
A group of teenagers who were headed to school were among the passengers on the bus. Thankfully, they were reunited with their parents without any injury themselves, but were undoubtedly shook up from the whole scenario.
They were also questioned by police in a waiting van after first responders had taken control of the situation.
A witness from the bus stated the following pertaining to the potentially fatal encounter with the gunman on the bus:
“I’m not gonna lie, I feared for my life.”
A swarm of police had made way to the area after the shooting, which is just feet from various businesses. According to police, details about the shooting are still being investigated and the story will update soon.
Also this week… a similar story of heroism out of Brooklyn.
It’s not often you hear about instances where the police call a citizen for help, but in this strange turn of events that avoided tragedy and saved two lives, that’s an accurate description of what led to the success of stopping a senseless act of self-harm and violence in Brooklyn, New York.
A Brooklyn mother who was suffering from postpartum-depression had nearly succeeded in taking her own life, as well as the life of her 6-month old child. By some miracle, a gun shop owner from the Poconos and a quick-on-their-feet NYPD officer managed to work together to foil the mother’s intended plot.
The mother, who lives in Pennsylvania, but who had been staying with family in Brooklyn, picked her daughter up from daycare early on Friday. After scooping up her kid, that’s when the disturbing messages starting getting sent to her own mother, Latika Thorpe, and to her sister, according to a report from the Post.
The woman, whose name is being withheld, sent messages like, “Can’t go on like this anymore,” and had implied that she intended to kill herself and her baby.
After the family started getting the strange cries for help, they contacted the NYPD for assistance. They explained that the new mom had been depressed after the birth of her daughter and wasn’t answering her phone and might be headed to home to Pennsylvania to kill herself and the baby.
Officer Michelle Schack and her partner Officer Gulrej Nandha rushed to the family’s Canarsie home.
When recounting the events to local news, Officer Schack stated, “Time was of the essence. We gotta stop this woman somehow and she has a baby and herself to think about. We were able to use our department cell phones to track the vehicle and we saw it was going over the Verrazano Bridge”
Latika Thorpe confirmed that was the route the young mother took to get home to her Pennsylvania house.
Schack made a mental list of options.
She could activate an Amber Alert with the New York State Police, and beyond that, hope someone would find them. But then the woman’s sister Latika expressed her concern to the officer over how easy it was to get a gun in Pennsylvania if she intended on harm to herself or her child.
That’s when things began to click, according to Schack.
“That’s when I just started quick thinking, ‘Let’s call gun shops.’ That’s most likely where she was heading to.”
She asked Thorpe if there were any on the way to the family’s Poconos home, but she wasn’t sure. Well, when using Google, Schack had located a shop called Pocono Mountain Firearms in Scotrun, which was right on the woman’s drive home.
Today, when a mother in crisis went missing with her 6 m/o baby, concerned family members called 911. A quick-thinking @NYPDPSA1 cop started calling gun stores in the area they thought she was going to. A keen-eyed gun store worker recognized her. Mom & baby are now both safe. pic.twitter.com/GbLfi0fQLd
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Schack called the owner to see if he’d seen a woman and a baby inside the store, going so far as to describe their vehicle and appearance, to which he replied that he hadn’t.
But that all changed in a matter of minutes.
“Within two minutes he called back and said ‘They’re here’. I said you have to stall them,” Schack said.
The owner of the store, Michael Conforti, initially thought the call was a rouse or a prank. His mindset immediately shifted once he hung up the phone and saw the woman and the baby described moments earlier standing right there in his shop.
When looking back at the moment, Conforti said, “That’s when the red flags started popping up.”
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Employees from the store noticed the woman’s odd mood, which he said could be read on her face at the time. When she was approached for help, she stated that she wanted to buy a gun.
By that point, Conforti realized even if it was a prank, he’d rather err on the side of caution. He called 911 as the NYPD had instructed him and tried to stall the woman as she filled out the paperwork to purchase a “small handgun.”
Soon enough, the Pocono Mountain Regional Police arrived and brought the mom and the baby to a local hospital for evaluation. If it wasn’t for Schack’s quick thinking, and the help of the out-of-state gun shop owner, things might not have turned out so well.
Schack commented on the responsive of local police and the appreciation of the family of the young woman.
“I was hoping the police were gonna get there quickly and everyone was gonna be safe. The second I heard [she was there] it was amazing. The grandma thanked me, the sister thanked me, they said you two went over and beyond. Most cops wouldn’t have done this. This was amazing what you did.”