35-year-old East Germantown man slain after reportedly pointing gun at police

A police-involved shooting took the life of a Germantown man on Wednesday night.

According to police, officers from the 14th District responded to multiple calls reporting a person with a gun on the 5600 block of Devon St. near E. Chelten Ave. at 8:47 p.m.

Foot chase turns deadly

Police responding to the scene saw a man running away on Devon Street, triggering a foot pursuit, said Chief Inspector Scott Small.

As officers approached the male, Small said he pulled a semi-automatic Ruger handgun from his waistband and pointed it at officers. One of those officers fired his service weapon, striking the suspect in the chest.

Dropping his gun to his side, the suspect collapsed on the street and was pronounced dead at the scene by medics at 9:01 p.m.

Neighbors identified the man as 35-year-old Belton Lomax, who lived on nearby East Woodlawn Avenue.

Speaking at the scene, Small said that little information was available regarding the events before the call to police, but that Lomax was acting alone, and did not fire his weapon at police.

“We’re very lucky no officers were hurt. We’re very lucky that no one in the community was hurt,” said Small. “We don’t know what this individual’s intentions were.”

Residents react

At the intersection of Woodlawn Ave. and Devon St., a large group of residents and family gathered behind the yellow crime-scene tape.

A volatile and, at times, hostile atmosphere pervaded. Dozens of officers from across the Northwest Philadelphia police division were called to the scene as a result.

Residents offered NewsWorks conflicting accounts of what occurred on Wednesday night and questioned the official report regarding Lomax, who was described as a well-liked neighborhood auto mechanic and a family man.

Police response

However, Small refuted neighbors’ allegations.

He emphasized that several 911 calls were received by dispatchers, and that responding officers were in full uniform and in a marked vehicle. Investigators recovered Lomax’s handgun within a foot of his body, he added. Court records showed convictions for theft, firearms violations and assault dating back to 1996.

As of late Wednesday night, homicide detectives and an Internal Affairs shooting team were investigating the case; per department policy, the officer will be placed on desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Along with seeking possible surveillance footage from nearby stores, Small said several witnesses were being interviewed by homicide detectives.

An unusual night

The incident happened about three hours after another police-involved shooting left a man dead in West Philadelphia. In that case, one of two suspects was fatally shot when he pulled out a gun after being “struck lightly” by a police cruiser during a foot chase.

Small could not recall of any instances in recent memory when two fatal police-involved shootings occurred in one evening.

In the meantime, family members of the slain Germantown man said they are hoping that the full story is eventually told.

“I want to see justice done for me and for all of his kids,” said Lomax’s wife Torri.

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