Late Thursday night a Philadelphia police officer was ambushed by a gunman wearing Muslim garb. Malcolm William walked up to Officer Jesse Hartnett’s marked vehicle and started shooting. Police report that William fired a total of 13 shots, hitting the officer three times in the arm. Harnett, a five-year veteran, was able to return fire, striking William three times. Police confirm the gunman has a long history of prior arrests, mostly for weapons and drug offenses.
William has been arrested, but a motive for the ambush has not been released by police. The officer suffered extensive injuries to his arm but was able to call for help after being ambushed. The shooting took place in West Philly at the intersection of 60th and Spruce Streets. According to Police Commissioner Richard Ross:
The suspect walked up to the officer’s vehicle and started shooting. It was just an absolute ambush. I just have to tell you, when you look at the video – we have video that captured all of this – it is one of the scariest things I have ever seen. This guy tried to execute the police officer; it is amazing he’s alive.
This ambush of the Philly officer comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s declaration of his intention to tighten gun control laws. Although Obama was recently slammed for rendering an emotional plea for tighter gun laws, the epidemic of gun violence is a definite crisis in the United States.
William is a known criminal who still had access to a gun. The method of gaining control of the gun violence crisis may not be as definitive as one would like, but the recent ambush confirms that gun deaths and injuries are one of the greatest threats of the American people’s safety and public health. Every year, at least 30,000 people in the country have their lives taken due to the firearm crisis permeating the nation.
While it may be difficult to come to an agreement on the proper resolve, a national crisis of such magnitude demands a compelling response. Jim Kenney, who is in his first week as mayor of Philadelphia, said:
There are just too many guns on the streets and I think our national government needs to do something about that.
Kenney is a lifelong resident of the nation’s fifth-largest city. Having grown up in South Philadelphia, he is no stranger to the criminal activity which has long marked the “City of Brotherly Love.” It is no surprise that public safety is one of the top priorities for the new mayor whose goal is to build a relationship of trust between the Philadelphia Police Department and members of the community. Kenney plans to institute reforms in police training and recruitment, a full body-camera program, prioritize community policing and end stop-and-frisk. The former Democratic City Councilman At-Large wants the city to become a place where law enforcement and citizens work together to improve the safety of each neighborhood.
For the ambush which occurred about 11:30 on Thursday night, William was arrested and charged with murder and weapons offenses. Hartnett underwent surgery early this morning at Presbyterian Hospital and is expected to recover fully. Reportedly, the gunman who ambushed the Philadelphia officer while wearing Muslim garb admitted that he attempted “execution” and claimed he did it in the name of Islam.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
ABC 6 News: Man Who Ambushed, Shot Philly Cop Wore Muslim Garb
WSFA: Gunman ambushes Philadelphia cop in cruiser; officer stable
NY Times: Barack Obama: Guns Are Our Shared Responsibility
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