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August 15, 2019

Kenney: North Philly standoff a 'harsh reminder' of reality of gun violence in U.S.

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Kenney North Philly shooting Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney lamented the epidemic of gun violence in the United States after six local police officers were wounded on Aug. 14 in a standoff with a suspect in Nicetown-Tioga.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney was joined by local and state leaders Thursday afternoon to address the aftermath of the North Philadelphia standoff that left six police officers wounded in a firefight with a barricaded suspect.

More than seven hours after the shooting began Wednesday, police were able to successfully negotiate the surrender of 36-year-old ex-felon Maurice Hill without further violence.

For hours, Hill had two Philadelphia police officers and other civilians trapped inside a property near the intersection of Broad Street and Erie Avenue, where police activity and gunfire gripped the surrounding neighborhood with fear.

"This incident is a reminder — a harsh reminder — of the devastating reality Americans face every day," Kenney said. "Whether it is mass shootings like we saw last week in El Paso and Dayton, guns have flooded American cities, leading to senseless — and preventable — violence."

Kenney pointed to the fact that while no one was killed during the standoff in Nicetown-Tioga, a man lost his life to a gunshot in South Philadelphia during the same timeframe.

"That incident didn’t draw national attention," the mayor said. "It happens daily in this city and many others across the nation. But a life was lost last night — to gun violence — here in Philadelphia. And like so many other shootings, it goes unnoticed."

Philadelphia police Commissioner Richard Ross praised the meticulous work of SWAT officers on the scene, adding that he expected and was prepared for a more violent outcome.

"I did not think it would end nearly the way it did," Ross said. "There was dialogue suggesting that this man was not going to go back to prison. He made that clear."

Hill has an extensive record and, Ross said he had told police during the course of the standoff that he didn't want to deal with prison again.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who delayed signing an executive order on gun violence Thursday, out of respect for the Philadelphia Police Department, said the state will take more aggressive action.

The common theme at Thursday's press conference was that local and state action must help push toward the federal response that has been lacking on gun reform — specifically assault weapons.

"We have to get these assault style weapons off the street," Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke said. "This is not Afghanistan. This is not Iraq. This is the United States. This has no place in this country."

Hill has not yet been formally charged, but Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said earlier Thursday that he will face charges that may keep him prison for the rest of his life.

Kenney urged lawmakers to act on gun legislation.

"Incidents like this should not keep happening — not in our city, not in our country," Kenney said. "If we fail to act, we will continue to see gun violence ravage our communities and tear families apart. So, I say to our state and federal lawmakers: Step up — or step aside."