IN THEIR third confrontation with an armed suspect that ended in gunfire in about 24 hours, police shot a man in North Philadelphia last night.

Police were in the area of 23rd and Oxford streets about 9:45 p.m. when they heard gunfire and then spotted a man running on Oxford Street toward 24th with a gun in his hand, Chief Inspector Scott Small said. The officers got out of their patrol car and ordered the 21-year-old man to drop the gun several times, but the man refused and instead ran toward them with the gun pointed in their direction, Small said. The officers opened fire, shooting the man in his lower body.

The man was taken by medics to Hahnemann University Hospital and was listed in stable condition. Small said police recovered a loaded and cocked semiautomatic handgun he had been carrying at the scene, and they found ballistic evidence of gunfire believed to have come from his gun around the corner on 24th Street.

"It could not have been done by police," Small said of bullet holes found in a car around the corner and other ballistic evidence there. "It's not the proper trajectory."

Wednesday night, police in West Philadelphia and East Mount Airy shot and killed two men that authorities said pointed guns at officers within about two hours. Neither of those men had yet been identified by police yesterday, and cops said they recovered fully loaded handguns at both scenes.