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Police say they killed man who aimed gun at them

A plainclothes police officer shot and killed a 38-year-old man in the Francisville section of North Philadelphia on Monday afternoon, the fourth person to die this year at the hands of police.

Philadelphia crime scene investigators walk around the body of a man shot and killed by plainclothes police officers at 16th and Swain. (Clem Murray/Inquirer)
Philadelphia crime scene investigators walk around the body of a man shot and killed by plainclothes police officers at 16th and Swain. (Clem Murray/Inquirer)Read more

A plainclothes police officer shot and killed a 38-year-old man in the Francisville section of North Philadelphia on Monday afternoon, the fourth person to die this year at the hands of police.

The man, who was identified as John Styles of North Philadelphia, was pronounced dead at the scene, 16th and Swain Streets, by authorities about 1:30 p.m. Police said he had a lengthy arrest record dating to 1989 on assault, drug and weapons offenses.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who has been ordered by Mayor Nutter to review the Police Department's use of deadly force, visited the scene shortly after the shooting.

Ramsey said the dead man, a drug suspect, had a gun drawn when two plainclothes officers approached him. One of the officers fired a single shot, killing him.

Lt. Frank Vanore of the Public Affairs Unit said that shortly before the confrontation, police had seen Styles in a drug transaction less than a mile away, on the 1700 block of Ingersoll Street in North Philadelphia.

Police said officers of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, Gang Enforcement then saw Styles drive off in a Toyota.

Two plainclothes officers, whose names were not released, followed Styles to 16th and Swain, where he had stopped his car, police said.

The officers got out of their vehicle and tried to approach the suspect, who got out of his Toyota.

"He turns on them with a gun in his hand," Vanore said. One of the officers fired a single shot.

Police said they had recovered a small-caliber semiautomatic gun that Styles was carrying.

No other details were released, including whether Styles got out of his car first.

The Rev. Michael Dinkins said he was driving his van on 16th near Swain when he heard a single shot. Dinkins said he then saw the body of a man dressed in camouflage on the ground with a semiautomatic handgun near his side.

The officers involved will be routinely removed from street duty while separate investigations are conducted by the Homicide and Internal Affairs Units.

Styles' death is the fourth this year in a police-involved shooting.

The first to die was 33-year-old Joseph Abebe, fatally wounded early on Jan. 1 by police responding to a report of shots fired near a home in East Germantown where the New Year was being celebrated. He died several days later.

The second death was that of Timothy J. Goode, 24, of the Northwood section of Northeast Philadelphia and a grand-nephew of former Mayor W. Wilson Goode.

Goode was shot by an undercover officer during a drug sting in Germantown about 9:30 p.m. Jan 11. Police said Goode was being followed by police, and at one point turned and aimed a gun at officers.

Several hours later, officers shot and killed a North Philadelphia man outside a bar on the 2400 block of Clifford Street.

Police said two officers were trying to disperse a crowd outside the bar when one officer saw Trevar Cephas, 21, of the 2100 block of North 23d Street, pull a gun from his waistband. The officer ordered Cephas to drop his gun, but Cephas moved to raise it, police said. He was shot once in the stomach and was pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital.

Also Monday, police fired at a kidnapping suspect in the Cedarbrook section of Northwest Philadelphia.

That began when police responded to a report of a home invasion in which a woman was abducted from a residence in the 900 block of Slocum Street in Stenton, Vanore said.

Vanore said at least two men entered the home about 11 a.m. and beat one of the residents while demanding money. The attackers forced two women into a van and drove to Cheltenham Avenue, where one of the women was able to escape and call police. Authorities then spotted the van near Ivy Hill Cemetery and saw two men jump out.

One of the men ran through the cemetery toward Montgomery County but was confronted by a Philadelphia officer, who fired a shot at him. He was not hit but was taken into custody. The other suspect was also taken into custody inside city limits, Vanore said.

Detectives were sorting through evidence late Monday afternoon, but it appeared that both men involved with the initial robbery and abduction were in custody. Their names were not released.

Police said there have been 17 cases this year in which officers fired their weapons. Seven of those involved dogs, police said. In 2006, 20 civilians were killed by police, more than in any other year since 1980. Last year, the number of fatal officer-involved shootings was 15.