In February, 24-year-old Rodney Phath was allegedly peddling assault rifles and the drug Ecstasy on Mifflin Street near 19th in South Philadelphia.

One of the rifles was an SKS, the same type of high-powered gun that killed police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski on May 3.

After Phath was arrested for weapons offenses, conspiracy and possession on Feb. 11, Bail Commissioner James O'Brien set bail at $25,000. Phath posted bail the next day and was free to go.

And early yesterday morning, he was found about a mile south of where he allegedly had sold weapons committing his latest crime, police said.

At about 12:30 a.m., police responded to a home-invasion robbery on 24th Street near Wharton in South Philadelphia, said Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman.

"It appears that possibly four men knocked at the door and forced their way into the house armed with guns," Vanore said.

A resident of the home was able to dial 9-1-1 from an upstairs room, and one of the arriving officers immediately went to the rear of the property, Vanore said.

Phath and his cohorts, identified as Hongsakoune Temchareum, 24, and Malik Aquilar, 18, tried to escape out the back but were unsuccessful, police said. A fourth suspect escaped and is still at large.

Phath, armed with a shotgun, turned toward the officer, and the officer fired, striking Phath once in the calf, Vanore said. Phath was being treated at Temple University Hospital. The officer is on desk duty pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation.

Phath has a history of arrests for weapons. In 2004, he was charged with weapons offenses for having a loaded BB gun under the passenger seat of his car, according to court records.

Because it was a BB gun, he was charged with a summary offense. He pleaded guilty and paid court costs of $142.50, according to court records.

In September 2006, he was arrested again for attempted murder, simple assault, aggravated assault and related offenses for allegedly shooting a former roommate after an argument, according to court records.

When police arrested Phath, they confiscated a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, a .380 pistol, a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle and a .25-caliber rifle from his home.

The charges were withdrawn or dismissed, court records show.

A month later, Phath was re-arrested on the aggravated-assault and weapons charges. The charges were eventually once again dismissed, according to court records, which didn't indicate the reason.

For the February case, Phath is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on June 25.

For yesterday's home invasion, Phath, Aquilar and Temchareum face charges of burglary, robbery, weapons and related offenses, police said. A court date has not been set. *