Police opened fire and critically wounded a man who raised a handgun again after putting two bullets through a window at the Masonic Temple across from City Hall this morning.
The man, identified as Amir Bey, 22, fired at police who responded to the shooting at 6:24 a.m. , said Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel at an afternoon news converence.
The officers took cover and called for assistance, and soon there were 16 police at the scene.
Traffic was blocked off as Bey paced in front of the Temple for about 40 minutes. Then he fired a shot at a group of officers.
The officers fired back. Bey was struck multiple times. Bethel was not certain how many shots police had fired but said each averaged between one and four rounds per officer.
Investigators recovered an emptied five-shot revolver at the scene.
Bey, who had no prior arrests, was in critical condition this afternoon after undergoing surgery at Hahnemann University Hospital.
Bethel said Bey displayed signs of mental illness.
"A lot of his comments were not consistent with someone who is mentally stable," Bethel said.
The incident closed off the area around City Hall for more than an hour. Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey even showed up and helped to direct traffic away from the area.
SEPTA suspended bus, trolley and subway service through City Hall for an hour or so after the drama started to unfold.
North Broad Street between Race Street and City Hall remained closed through the morning as an Internal Affairs Unit shooting team investigated the incident.
The morning's drama unfolded as many were just arriving to Center City to start the workday. Indeed, the incident brought commuter chaos as block after block surrounding City Hall was being shut to pedestrians and traffic.
Witnesses gave an account of a man in a green T-shirt nonchalantly displaying a handgun on the block of North Broad Street between Arch Street and City Hall across from Love Park.
William Underwood, 43, of Center City, was drinking coffee in the McDonalds on the northwest corner of Broad and Arch Streets when he looked out the window and saw the man.
"We noted the guy had a gun," Underwood said. "He wasn't really pointing it at anyone. He just kind of had it in his hand. He was walking back and forth in front of the church. It was kind of weird."
He said employees locked the doors as police converged on the area and took up positions to avoid being caught in a possible crossfire.
"He raised the gun and they shot him," Underwood said. "I'd never seen anything like that in my life. I know he raised the gun first. There were so many shots fired it was like the Fourth of July."
A SEPTA bus driver who would not give her name said she had stopped her southbound bus at Arch and Broad for a light when "I heard a gunshot."
She said man with the gun fired several shots, but police did not immediately return fire.
"They did not shoot at first," she said. "They gave him ample time to put down the gun and surrender. He raised the gun in the air and that was it. It seemed like every one of the officers let go. I'd never seen anything like it. It was like a movie."
Police and witnesses said the man fired at least two shots through a window of the Masonic Temple at some time before officers shot him.
Chuck Holloway, 62, of Fishtown, was working security and maintenance at the Masonic Temple when he heard two loud bangs about 6:30 a.m. He went to check and saw two bullet holes in the window of an office facing Broad Street.
"I looked out the window and he was standing behind my car. I saw him standing there with the gun at his side, and all the officers, guns drawn, pointed directly at him."
Holloway did not know how many officers there were, only "a lot."
"I just saw him start to raise his gun and that was all. I turned and looked away. I said this isn't good. There must have been 50 rounds fired."