‘I’m still not calm’: Exhausted neighbors unsettled after North Philly police shooting

Normal life was turned upside down on Wednesday. A day later, people were still coming to grips with exactly what unfolded.

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Children from the Precious Babies daycare are evacuated on SEPTA buses from the scene of a mass shooting and standoff with police. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Children from the Precious Babies daycare are evacuated on SEPTA buses from the scene of a mass shooting and standoff with police. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Hours after Wednesday’s marathon standoff on North 15th Street, Phillip Greene sat silently on his living room couch, exhausted but unable to settle his mind.

An emotional cocktail swirled inside. He felt lucky that he reached his front door just as the first shots rang out around the corner. But he was also angry and inexplicably numb.

“I’m not a violent person, so being that close to bearing witness to some heavy violence, that didn’t sit well with me,” said Greene late Thursday morning, a couple hours of fitful sleep under his belt.

“I’m still not calm.”

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Greene’s neighbors are equally shaken by the shootout, which sent six police officers to the hospital. Gun violence is not uncommon in this section of North Philadelphia, but many said Wednesday’s shootout was unparalleled.

The crush of squad cars that swarmed the area, the armed cops who charged down quiet residential blocks, the teargas that pushed Maurice Hill to surrender nearly eight hours after he began firing at police with a semi-automatic rifle.

“It was scary as hell. It was like something out of a movie,” said a longtime resident on Carlisle Street, who declined to give her name.

As she braided her daughter’s hair from a chair on the sidewalk, she said Wednesday’s shootout was particularly frightening because of how little police communicated with residents on her street.

The block was cordoned off, but she said officers never told neighbors why or whether they should stay in their homes. The result: almost none of them did.

“We didn’t get the memo at all. They didn’t make us feel safe at all,” she said.

Children from the Precious Babies daycare are evacuated after a mass shooting in North Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A short walk away on North Broad Street, Lakisha Wilson was breathing easier. For hours on Wednesday, she was trapped inside Shake, Rattle and Roll Learning Center with staffers, two dozen toddlers and several parents who came to the daycare to shelter-in-place with their children.

Hill began shooting around 4:30 p.m. Police escorted everyone out of the daycare around 8 p.m.

“I was very worried,” said Wilson, a supervisor at the center. “It was kind of hard keeping a straight face because you don’t know what’s going on in the area.”

Still, Wilson said she wasn’t afraid to return to work on Thursday.

“You have to worry about your life everyday. There’s no telling what’s gonna happen when you walk out your door,” she said.

Hill, 36, has not yet been charged. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said Hill could be charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault, as well as drug and gun offenses.

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