'Tis the season to be grateful. One cop certainly is after a struggle last Thursday with a seasoned criminal who was carrying a gun in a bag.

Angel Ortiz, 27, got into a struggle with Officer James Boone, who was walking a foot beat on 5th Street between Allegheny Avenue and Cambria Street, North Philadelphia, keeping an eye on folks Christmas shopping, said Capt. Chris Werner, head of the 25th District, Whitaker Avenue near Erie.

About 2:30 p.m., Boone spotted three men hanging out on a corner. As he approached, Ortiz, who had 16 arrests and was on probation, was trying to pass off a bulky white plastic bag, Werner said.

Boone ordered the men to disperse. Two of the men cooperated. Ortiz balked.

"I was walking [Ortiz] back towards my patrol car when I felt something hard inside the bag, which I could immediately tell was a firearm," Boone said.

An instant later, Ortiz and Boone were locked in a physical struggle.

Ortiz struck Boone with the bag that contained a stolen Colt .380 semiautomatic handgun, and took off on foot, Werner said.

He was captured two blocks away by the officer, he said.

Ortiz was held for court yesterday charged with carrying a firearm without a license and related offenses. Previous convictions include aggravated assault, drug possession and criminal conspiracy, court records show. *