Update: Police and union officials announced Monday, March 16, that the services described below had been postponed indefinitely due to new restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.
Slain Philadelphia Police Cpl. James O’Connor IV, who was fatally shot in Frankford last week as he moved in on a murder suspect, will be honored at two viewings and a funeral Mass later this week — even as the city has banned large gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, a viewing open to the public will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the John F. Givnish funeral home in Northeast Philadelphia.
Another public viewing will take place at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Center City on Friday morning starting at 7:30, followed by a funeral Mass at noon.
The city has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people in its efforts to contain the coronavirus, and police funerals often attract thousands of mourners.
John McNesby, president of the officers’ union, said Sunday that police, union, and city officials were all working together while consulting O’Connor’s family to balance concerns about safety, crowd size, and public health. The number of people inside the cathedral for Mass, for example, would be limited, McNesby said.
“Everybody’s doing their best to minimize any worries about any harm to anybody,” he said.
A city spokesperson said Monday that “protocols for this service have not yet been finalized” due to the announcement Sunday night from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging an eight-week hiatus from events with more then 50 attendees.
Police and Health Department officials will continue to work with the O’Connor family and the service organizers to ensure any current and future guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health is followed," the spokesperson, Lauren Cox, said in an email.
O’Connor’s family has deep roots in the police department. The 46-year-old SWAT corporal had served on the force for 23 years, his father was also a city cop, and his son is currently an officer in the Sixth District. O’Connor was married and also had a daughter, who serves in the Air Force.
McNesby said O’Connor’s relatives were continuing to grieve Sunday: “It’s going to take a lot of time.”
O’Connor was shot Friday about 5:40 a.m. on the 1600 block of Bridge Street when he and other Special Weapons and Tactics officers, along with members of a homicide fugitive task force, entered a rowhouse searching for Hassan Elliott, 21, who was wanted on a homicide warrant.
But before officers could reach Elliott, police said, bullets came flying through a closed second-floor bedroom door. O’Connor was struck in the arm and shoulder as he tried to climb the stairs, police have said. His colleagues returned fire, striking two of the six people inside the house.
O’Connor was taken to Temple University Hospital and declared dead at 6:09 a.m. The people in the house were taken into custody.
Elliott was arraigned early Saturday on murder, conspiracy, and related charges in connection with the March 1, 2019 shooting of Tyree Tyrone in Frankford — the crime that brought police to Bridge Street on Friday to arrest him.
Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said Friday that 18-year-old Khalif Sears was also in the house, and that Sears was also a suspect in Tyrone’s murder.
But Sears had not yet been charged as of Sunday, according to court records. And a police spokesperson declined to provide an update on possible charges against him or the other suspects.
Elliott, meanwhile, was being held without bail because of the murder charges.
He also was arraigned Saturday on attempted murder and related charges regarding a December 2019 shooting. In that case, a man driving a car was struck by gunfire on the 5200 block of Hawthorne Street when Elliott allegedly began shooting across the street, intending to hit someone else, a police source said.
Investigators found at least nine firearms and drugs in the house where O’Connor was fatally shot, police said. More than a dozen shots were fired at police during the episode, authorities said.
No charges had been brought yet in the shooting of O’Connor.