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March 06, 2015

Ramsey: Officer killed protecting store customers

Ramsey: Patrolman hit nine times, but kept firing to protect store customers

Philadelphia police Officer Robert Wilson III was killed in the line of duty Thursday protecting the customers of a GameStop store after two men allegedly armed with semi-automatic guns entered and announced a robbery, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said during a Friday press conference.

The two men have been identified by police as brothers Ramone Williams, 24, and Carlton Hipps, 29. Hipps, who was shot in the leg during the battle, is now cuffed in a hospital bed with Wilson's handcuffs. Both men are facing murder charges.  

Wilson, 30, was buying his nine-year-old son a video game for getting good grades when the two suspects entered the GameStop store, police said.

Police said the suspects didn't know Wilson, whose son was having a birthday on Monday, was in the store in a strip shopping center at 22nd Street and Lehigh Avenue in the Swampoodle neighborhood.

 The shooting started when Williams and Hipps, armed with semi-automatic weapons bought on the street, saw Wilson, police said. Most of the shooting occurred in the GameStop store.

Wilson "continued to fight, continued to shoot," even after being struck, said Ramsey. "That's why you don't have more people being struck at the store." 

Other than Hipps being shot in the leg, no other injuries were reported at the store. 

During the gun battle, Wilson was shot nine times, including at least once in the head at about 4:45 p.m. 

Everything happened in about 30 seconds, according to Philadelphia police Capt. James Clark. That was enough time, however, for around 50 shots to be fired.

He was rushed to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m., Ramsey said. Wilson, an eight-year veteran of the force, also has a one-year-old son. He was assigned to the 22nd Police District. 

Wilson’s partner, Damien Stephenson, who was in a police cruiser parked outside the store and was waiting for the slain officer, responded upon hearing the gunshots and also exchanged fire with the suspects, police said. The partner was unharmed.

Wilson was one of the "best police officers this city had to offer," Ramsey said. "[He was] a very, very brave, heroic individual. Even though he was struck multiple times, he was able to [return] fire."

According to Ramsey, Hipps was out on parole for a separate robbery, while Williams has prior arrests for aggravated assault and theft. He called for the death penalty for both men.

"This is again one more example of the danger police officers and law enforcement personnel face on a regular basis," he said. "[This] senseless level of violence from some people is completely unacceptable in this great city."


Philadelphia police officers stand outside a video game store at 22nd Street and Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia, where a fellow officer was shot multiple times on Thursday afternoon, and later died. (NBC10 via Twitter)

Philadelphia police Detective Joseph Murray sent out a tweet regarding Wilson's shooting:

Fellow police officers have organized a trust fund for Wilson's family. Wilson leaves behind two sons, aged 9 and 1. Folks can make donations in person at any one of the following Police and Fire Federal Credit Union locations:

 • 901 Arch St.
 • 7604 City Ave.
 • 8500 Henry Ave.
 • Leo Mall, Byberry and Bustleton Aves.
 • 7500 Castor Ave.
 • 3300 Grant Ave.

Checks can also be mailed to the following address:

The Robert Wilson III Family Memorial Trust Fund
Police and Fire Federal Credit Union
901 Arch Street

Philadelphia PA, 19107

The last Philadelphia officer killed in the line of duty was Moses Walker Jr., who was shot and killed around 6 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2012. Walker had just ended his shift at the 22nd District station and was walking to a bus stop when he encountered two men who announced a robbery and then shot the 19-year veteran in the chest, stomach and arm.

The unveiling Friday morning of a U.S. Justice Department report on reforms at the Philadelphia Police Department over police-involved shootings was canceled.

This story is developing. Check back for details.