Police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy in South Philadelphia on Tuesday night after their unmarked police vehicle was struck by gunfire.
Authorities say the incident took place while four officers were surveilling the area of 18th and Johnston streets as part of a firearms investigation around 7:24 p.m. The 12-year-old was with a 17-year-old who was wanted for questioning in reference to that investigation, police said at a news conference focused on gun violence Wednesday afternoon.
When officers approached the boys in their police vehicle, which had its emergency lights activated, they say they heard gunfire and shattering glass. A bullet went through the rear passenger window, hit the inner door frame, and went through the passenger headrest before stopping in the vehicle’s headliner. One of the officers was struck in the face and eyes with shattered glass.
Two officers exited the vehicle to pursue the 12-year-old, who police say was in possession of a stolen gun. One of the officers fired at the boy. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The officers were not wearing body cameras. Police are in the process of trying to recover any and all camera surveillance footage from the entire area.
“We don’t have a definitive determination at this point of everything,” said deputy commissioner of investigations Ben Naish during the city’s biweekly gun violence press conference.
“We’re still talking to people, trying to locate surveillance footage, which will determine exactly what the chain of events was. But at this point, all indications are that we believe he was still in possession of the weapon at the time of the officer’s discharge.”
The 17-year-old was detained by police but released pending further investigation.
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