‘Just be patient’: Inquirer photographer on how she got the picture of alleged North Philly police shooter

Every Monday, we present a gallery of pictures of the week that just passed, taken by our staff photojournalists — and tell you the story behind one of them. This week Elizabeth Robertson talks about her role in covering a North Philadelphia shootout.

At 3:30 a.m., shoot-out suspect Maurice Hill was walked from Temple University Hospital to a waiting Philadelphia police van. Hill allegedly shot six Philadelphia police officers on August 14, 2019.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
At 3:30 a.m., shoot-out suspect Maurice Hill was walked from Temple University Hospital to a waiting Philadelphia police van. Hill allegedly shot six Philadelphia police officers on August 14, 2019.

Good things, including pictures, come to those who wait.

And waiting is just what Inquirer photographer Elizabeth Robertson did on Wednesday night when Maurice Hill allegedly opened fire on Philadelphia police officers serving a search warrant on the 3700 block of North 15th Street in the Tioga section of North Philadelphia.

Robertson, who is from New Jersey, had always wanted to work at The Inquirer. She said the collective effort it takes to gather and report the news is something she admires about the job. Wednesday’s standoff was an extreme example of that, with dozens of Inquirer reporters, editors, photographers, web producers, copy editors, audience specialists and page designers deployed all over the region to shape one of the region’s biggest stories of the year.

“There’s just this cool thing where it’s never about any one person’s job,” Robertson said. “It’s a collection. It’s like a bike wheel with spokes in it. You need all these people to make this thing go round.”

On Wednesday, Robertson was one of six Inquirer photographers covering what turned into a nearly 8-hour-long standoff with police. At the scene, Robertson saw two police vans fly down Broad Street and, “I went and I chased those vans to the police headquarters.”

“Just wait. Just be patient and wait,” Robertson said.

Once Hill had surrendered, she thought, “They’re going to take the guy somewhere.” So she headed to Temple University Hospital, where she initially missed the shot of him entering.

“You couldn’t see him,” she said.

Around 3:30 a.m., Hill was walked out of the hospital by police and Robertson made the image, adding another “piece of the puzzle” to Inquirer coverage of that night.

» SEE MORE: Last week’s staff photo gallery and the staff photography page

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