A Philadelphia police officer was hospitalized in good condition Sunday night night after he was shot and wounded earlier Sunday as he responded to a gun fight in North Philadelphia.
Three others also were wounded as gunshots rang out at about 2:30 a.m. near Broad and Somerset Streets, and nearby residents said the incident apparently began with an argument in a bar that escalated outside into a rolling gun battle over several blocks.
Officer Ashley Hoggard, 26, a three-year veteran of the department assigned to the 39th District, remained hospitalized last night at Temple University Hospital, recovering after doctors removed a bullet from his shoulder.
Lt. Frank Vanore, a police department spokesman, said doctors described Hoggard as lucky, in terms of the location of his injury, and said he is expected to recover fully.
The incident underscored the volatility of the streets and the wide availability of guns, and left nearby residents angry and frustrated - but relieved that Hoggard had survived.
"It was definitely a dangerous situation," said Vanore, describing a "massive" crime scene that extended over a several-block area littered with shell casings. "We're very lucky that no one was seriously injured."
A number of nearby residents said they were awakened by the sound of gunshots, rapidly fired and over a fairly long duration.
Pop-pop-pop-pop - perhaps as many as 15 or 17 shots, said several people, who said they believed the incident became a moving gun fight. One woman said she thought the sound had come from her TV set.
"It was real loud," said Louis James, one of the few area residents who would give a name. Most cited the omnipresent fear of retaliation as a reason for declining to be identified.
Vanore said that police were interviewing people who were in the bar to determine what sparked the incident.
He said one weapon was recovered from the rear of a property in the 1300 block of Somerset Street, and that they were trying to determine how many shooters were involved.
The three others shot were hospitalized in stable condition, and Vanore said it was still unclear whether they were innocent bystanders or were possibly involved.
Police cordoned off several blocks around the scene, and Broad Street was closed to traffic from Glenwood Avenue to Lehigh Avenue as the investigation continued hours after the shooting.
By late morning, the shooting remained the talk of the neighborhood, as residents gathered on front stoops, talking in hushed voices about the burst of violence.
Several said police towed away a car parked at a nearby service station, apparently because there were bullet holes in it.
The fight apparently exploded from the bar to the street, some nearby residents said, as two men started shooting at each other, with the police officer being shot as he responded.
"The law is one thing, and living out here is another thing," said a woman who also would not give her name out of concern for retaliation.