Philadelphia police have identified an East Mount Airy man as a suspect in what they are calling the attempted murder of three undercover police officers Friday night.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Jeffione Thomas, 28, whose last known address was on the 7800 block of Fayette Street, police said Saturday. He is wanted on charges of attempted murder, violation of the Uniform Firearms Act, and related offenses in connection with an ambush of an unmarked police vehicle.
According to the police account, Thomas is believed to be the person who pedaled up beside the officers' vehicle on a bicycle shortly after 8 p.m. on the 1400 block of Sharpnack Street in the city’s Cedarbrook section, pulled out a gun and started firing.
Sgt. Eric Gripp, a police spokesperson, said in an email Saturday that the officers had heard gunshots prior to seeing the man on the bicycle.
“As they are driving alongside him, he’s riding slow, and because of the officers hearing the gunshots shortly before, they roll down the window to ask if he’s ok,” Gripp said. “The male cursed at the officers ... and pulled the gun from his waistband and began firing.”
The vehicle was struck several times by gunfire and rolled up on a sidewalk and into a fence just past Fayette Street. The officers got out of the vehicle and two returned fire, police said.
A second male on Sharpnack Street then began shooting toward the officers. Both gunmen then fled in an unknown direction, police said. The suspected identity of the second shooter has not been released.
Police said a bullet pierced the driver’s seat of the police vehicle but was stopped by the officer’s ballistic vest. He was taken to Einstein Medical Center in stable condition.
An officer in the backseat sustained cuts from flying fragments of either bullets or glass to her left leg. She was also in stable condition at Einstein, police said.
The third officer, who was in the front passenger seat, was uninjured.
Late Saturday afternoon, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 announced a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the shooters. Shortly after, it doubled it to $10,000.
“It’s outrageous and disgusting when two thugs think it’s OK to open fire on three undercover narcotics officers,” said FOP president John McNesby in a statement. “Our officers were ambushed for simply doing their jobs, working to get drugs and guns off our streets.”
Staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.