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October 18, 2023

Two more suspects arrested for fatal shooting of Philly Police Officer Richard Mendez

Alexander Batista Polanco and Hendrick Peña-Fernandez were being transported to the city on Wednesday. A third suspect, Yobranny Martinez Fernandez, was charged Monday

Investigations Shootings
Arrests Mendez Shooting SOURCE/Philadelphia Police Department

Two more people have been arrested in connection to the shooting that killed Philadelphia police officer Richard Mendez and wounded officer Raul Ortiz in an airport garage last Thursday.

Two more people are in custody for the shooting that killed Philadelphia police officer Richard Mendez and wounded his partner, Raul Ortiz, last week, police said. 

Alexander Batista Polanco, of Camden, and Hendrick Peña-Fernandez, of Pennsauken, were arrested and are expected to be charged Wednesday with killing Mendez inside a Philadelphia airport parking garage on Oct. 12. The men had been staying in New Jersey hotels in rooms that were not booked using their names, police said at a press conference Wednesday. 

RELATED: Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of Philly police officer Richard Mendez

Bastista Polanco is being transported to Philadelphia from Scranton. He had warrants for his arrest in New Jersey and Scranton and was charged with crimes in both places prior to being turned over to the Philadelphia police.

Police now believe they have captured the four suspects who were involved in the shooting, but Deputy Commissioner Frank Vanore, of the Philadelphia police, said more people could be arrested as authorities investigate the getaway car being set on fire and who paid for the hotel rooms where the suspects stayed after the shootings.

On Monday, 18-year-old Yobranny Martinez Fernandez was charged with murder for his alleged role in the shooting, but police said they were still looking for at least two accomplices. The reward for information on the shooting had reached $276,000 by Tuesday.

Investigators still have not determined which of the suspects fired the shots that struck the two police officers. 

Mendez and Ortiz were shot shortly after reporting for duty at the Philadelphia International Airport at 11 p.m. Thursday. According to investigators, the officers heard glass shattering in the Terminal D parking garage and observed several people attempting to break into a vehicle. Shots were fired as the officers confronted them.

Mendez, 50, was struck four times in his torso and later died at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. Ortiz, 60, was struck once in the arm. He was released from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital over the weekend. 

Investigators believe Mendez was shot from behind.

The death of Jesus Herman Madera Duran, 18, also is believed to be connected to the shooting. After the shooting, he was dropped off at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he died. Authorities allege Batista Polanco, Peña-Fernandez and Martinez Fernandez were accomplices of Madera Duran in the car break-in at the airport.

Police say the suspects fled the scene of the shooting in a stolen Dodge Durango. The vehicle later was found abandoned and set ablaze in South Brunswick, New Jersey.

Investigators believe Madera Duran was shot and killed by one of his accomplices – not by police, Deputy Commissioner Frank Vanore said Monday. Investigators do not believe Mendez fired his weapon, which was missing from the shooting scene and still has not been recovered, police said. 

Authorities also recovered a black Dodge Charger that is believed to be connected to the shooting. The car was found Saturday in Kensington. 

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said Wednesday investigators have evidence that the suspects all knew each other.

"I'm very confident in this particular case in the forensics and the technology that was used," Pescatore said. "These people all knew each other. They were together. We have proof of that."

Although the investigation is ongoing, interim Police Commissioner John Stanford said he is grateful that all of the suspects in the shooting have been arrested. 

"It's a bittersweet kind of moment today," Stanford said. "Bitter in the fact that we wish we didn't even have to be here in the first place for a fallen officer, but sweet in knowing that we have essentially taken everyone that is responsible for the shooting of officer Ortiz and the murder of officer Mendez in custody."

Mendez had been a Philadelphia cop for nearly 23 years, mostly with the 25th district in North Philly. He had transferred to the airport district in 2018. He was a husband and father to one daughter, police said. 

Philadelphia City Councilmember Quetzy Lozada, a friend of the Mendez family, read a statement on their behalf on Wednesday. 

"We are thankful for the swift action that the Philadelphia Police Department took to find the perpetrators and we appreciate the outpour of support through kind words and contributions that were made through the reward fund," the family said. 

A viewing will be held for Mendez on the evening of Monday, Oct. 23, followed by his funeral on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

This is a developing story and will be updated as details become available