Maurice Hill, a 36-year-old felon with an extensive criminal history for weapons offenses, was identified by the Philadelphia Inquirer as the suspect who is accused of shooting six police officers in “an active firefight” in Philadelphia.
Police have not yet released the suspect’s name. The newspaper cited police sources for its report, and CBS Philadelphia also reported that the suspect in the more than 7-hour long standoff is Maurice Hill, attributing the information to his lawyer. Just after midnight, police announced: “Suspect is in custody. SWAT is still clearing the house.”
As a felon, Maurice Hill was legally barred from possessing a firearm; in fact, he was previously convicted in federal court of illegally doing just that (being a felon in possession of a firearm). You can read Maurice Hill’s extremely lengthy state criminal history here. Over the years, many criminal charges ended up not being prosecuted by authorities, including firearms offenses and accusations of reckless endangerment.
The mayor used the shooting press conference to highlight gun control issues.
“Our officers need help…. They need help with gun control. They need help with keeping weapons out of these people’s hands,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. “This government, federal and state’s level, doesn’t want to do anything about getting these guns off the streets and getting them out of the hands of criminals.”
In a press conference on August 15, District Attorney Larry Krasner was peppered with questions about Hill’s lengthy record.
“I do think what this record indicates is a long series of serious criminal acts,” Krasner said. “They did not all make their way to a conviction and obviously when you have a serious case where a person is guilty, ideally prosecutors are going to be able to rely on good investigations and they will be able to obtain convictions.”
Krasner touted his office’s disinterest in prosecuting people for things like marijuana possession, and he said that, as a result of a focus on more serious offenses, the caseload has dropped in the DA”s office. He claimed that the DA’s office was handling thousands more cases “in some of these time periods” when Hill was being accused of past crimes.
“I do think there are issues of focus here,” said Krasner, who personally spoke to Hill on the telephone with his attorney during the standoff. Krasner is a civil rights attorney who took office in 2018 on a controversial promise of criminal justice reform (Krasner’s office has sent more gun possession cases to court diversion programs, for example). He defended his decision to speak with the suspect before consulting with police, saying the call came in too fast to do so.
“I think it’s clear this man should not have been on the streets,” Krasner added.
US Attorney Bill McSwain, who will prosecute Hill, criticized Krasner in a press conference. Krasner is a Democrat, and McSwain was nominated by President Donald Trump.
“There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this city that unfortunately promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner and I am fed up with it,” McSwain said. ” … and now we’ve endured for a year and half the worst kind of slander against law enforcement, with the DA routinely calling police and prosecutors corrupt and racist, and most recently comparing them to war criminals and comparing them to Nazis.”
Journalist Alexandria Hoff wrote on Twitter that some people at the scene were taunting police officers during the standoff. “I mentioned this at 10 and since I was harassed during that live shot, I’ll mention it here too. A major moment of disappointment this evening was watching a crowd of people taunt police officers, laughing and yelling at them in the midst of the gunfire,” she wrote. She added: “I should add – 98% of people here on scene were respectful and concerned. That moment was just such a startling thing to see in the middle of something so chaotic.” You can see video of people confronting officers at the scene here.
The officers are expected to survive their encounter with the barricaded active shooter. “The officers and additional prisoners that were inside of the house with the shooter were safely evacuated,” the police commissioner said, via Twitter. Police also revealed that “all six officers who were shot have been released from area hospitals. One officer is being admitted for injuries sustained in a vehicle crash related to the incident.”
At about 7 p.m., Eric Gripp, of Philadelphia police public affairs, wrote on Twitter, “Suspect is still firing. SIX (6) PPD Officers shot – at area hospitals with non life threatening injuries. Additional officers also receiving treatment for non-gunshot injuries. Continue to avoid area. Situation is active and ongoing.” A half hour before that, he wrote: “Suspect is still firing. STAY OUT OF THE AREA.”
At one point, police officers were trapped inside the house where the suspect was barricaded, authorities confirmed. There was a major law enforcement response to the Nicetown section of Philadelphia where the shooting erupted. Kenney said that, at one point, officers who were still inside the residence were “whispering upstairs because they didn’t want the shooter to know where they were located.”
The police commissioner said he hadn’t seen anything like it “in years.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Maurice Hill Has a Criminal History for Gun Offenses Dating to Age 18, Records Show
The mayor said in a news conference that the suspect was no stranger to the criminal justice system. Here’s an example of just a part of one page of his lengthy criminal history that shows that many charges ended up not being prosecuted. The term “nolle prossed” means prosecutors dropped the charges.
Here’s another example. Hill has a drug history as well.
“This guy is clearly a criminal…he had apparently a long record. Has been involved in criminal justice before and he was able to get these weapons,” the mayor said, calling the situation “Disgusting.”
In a press conference, the mayor criticized the government for not standing “up to the NRA.”
“If the state and federal government don’t want to stand up to the NRA, then let us police ourselves,” he said. “Our officers deserve to be protected.”
According to the Inquirer, Hill’s extensive criminal record started at age 18. According to records reviewed by Heavy, that was a gun offense for having a gun with an altered serial number.
Since then, he’s been arrested around a dozen times, the Inquirer reported, with six convictions for things like “illegal possession of guns, drug dealing, and aggravated assault.” He’s served prison time, and has an escape and resisting arrest conviction. He “beat criminal charges on everything from kidnapping to attempted murder,” the Inquirer reported. Heavy confirmed those charges through state court records. Here’s a lengthy docket sheet of his 2012 case for perjury. It shows multiple accusations of probation violation.
The attempted murder charge was withdrawn, the records show:
Some of the charges were federal, according to records reviewed by Heavy. In 2008, he was convicted of firearms violations in federal court because he was a felon barred from owning firearms.
Federal court records reviewed by Heavy say he was “convicted in a court of the State of Pennsylvania of a crime” for possessing a Taurus PT .45 semi-automatic fully loaded. That’s one of the offenses.
The original offenses were two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.
In the August 14, 2019 shooting, police dispatch audio indicated at one point that the gunman was in a kitchen shooting at officers up through the floor. An officer on the dispatch audio says the suspect was “shooting from inside a kitchen. Shooting upwards and forwards from the position of the police.” Officers were pinned down inside the home at one point, according to the audio.
Video showed officers crouched down behind their police vehicles. There was also a daycare center in the area, although the children were unharmed. An armored vehicle was at the scene.
A witness told ABC News she heard more than 100 gunshots. “Officers are attempting to communicate with the shooter; imploring him to surrender and avoid further injuries,” Gripp wrote hours into the standoff with the barricaded suspect. And: “Officers continue to attempt to communicate with suspect; suspect is still firing at officers. STAY AWAY FROM THE AREA.”
Around 4:30 p.m., the first dispatches came across the scanner. You can listen to them here, starting at about 26:00 in.
“Shots fired, shots fired,” an officer says. Another officer says, “Shots fired…Shots fired at police…inside the property.”
At about 27:51, you can hear the gunshots. The suspect was firing what was described as a “long gun.”
One officer was shot in the leg, according to dispatch audio. “I’ve got officers shot at this location…they’re still being shot at…We’ll be transporting a shot officer to Temple,” says an officer in the audio.
2. Hill, Who Became a Father Again Two Days Before the Standoff, Is Known as ‘Gruff’ & a Witness Described the Scene as a ‘War Zone’
Maurice Hill had a scant Facebook page with almost nothing publicly visible on it. He indicated on the page that he was known as “Gruff” to differentiate himself from a relative with the same name. He also wrote that he went to John Bartram High School.
Hill’s attorney told NBC that Hill just became a father again.
The lawyer, Shaka Johnson, also told NBC that Hill called the attorney to end the standoff, saying he “wanted to try to figure a way out,” and “wouldn’t come out unless I was standing outside because he knows I wouldn’t allow anything to happen to him.” The police commissioner said tear gas helped end the standoff, however.
Johnson told ABC6 that Hill wanted to live because of his family: He is married with a teenage son and a baby daughter born just two days before the shootings. He said he’s known Hill so long as a lawyer that Hill refers to him as his uncle.
The Philadelphia police commissioner, Richard Ross Jr., said in a news conference that the suspect fired multiple rounds. The commissioner said “even when I was on scene, he fired multiple rounds, some of which struck the SWAT truck and buildings across the street. He continued to fire. It’s a grave concern to us. We want him out safely, even telling him the officers are going to be OK and there’s nothing we can’t work through,” Ross told the media.
He added of the officers that “thankfully everyone’s going to be OK” and said the officers are in good spirits. The police commissioner called it a volatile situation that was still unfolding. He said two officers trapped inside the home are okay.
Ross said there were people taken into custody initially but at that time “this male is holed up inside and… there is no indication that he is trying to surrender right now. We do know he’s still alive… because of the shots that keep ringing out. We’re doing everything in our power to get him to come out.” Hill was taken to the hospital to be checked out after the standoff ended:
NBC Philadelphia reported that the scene was described as a war zone with many shots being fired. A seventh police officer was also injured in a car accident.
NBC10 reported that the officers had suffered non life-threatening injuries. They said there were as many as 100 law enforcement officers at the scene.
Gripp wrote on Twitter: “Shooting situation ACTIVE and ONGOING on 3700 15th St. Avoid Area. Several PPD Officers have been injured. Updates will be provided as received.”
He also implored: “MEDIA HELICOPTERS: PULL BACK FROM THE AREA – YOU ARE HINDERING OPERATIONS.”
3. Authorities With a Narcotics Unit Were Attempting to Execute a Search Warrant When Maurice Hill Is Accused of Opening Fire
The shooting broke out when a Narcotics Strike Force unit went to serve a search warrant. It was a “drug-related warrant,” said Krasner, adding that it was related to a state investigation he did not detail.
Police dispatch audio said a “shot officer” was being transported. There was a “shot officer,” the officer frantically repeated in the dispatch audio.
Officials confirmed they were trying to serve a warrant when the shooting occurred. The home was located near the corner of North 15th and West Butler street.
As they were serving the warrant, the gunman had an AK47 rifle and was shooting from the downstairs as officers went upstairs to take other people into custody, NBC10 reported.
The police commissioner said he even went so far as to try to talk to the suspect himself. He said police were trying to “resolve this peacefully. We’re trying to use and leverage everything possible. There were multiple attempts to talk to him by myself and others…(to tell the suspect) he’s not going to be harmed when he comes out… I have police officers in a very volatile situation.”
The mayor said an officer with a head wound has two boys, and he thought about how different their lives would be if the bullet struck just a little farther over. The mayor described the suspect as having “all that weaponry and firepower.”
Governor Tom Wolf wrote in a statement, “Tonight is another reminder of the selfless sacrifice of our law enforcement officers and first responders. We are praying for a peaceful resolution and the full recovery of all those injured. We must remain committed to combatting violence and getting dangerous weapons out of our communities.”
4. Maurice Hill Was Previously Accused of Violating Supervised Release Conditions in Federal Court After Police Found Drugs Behind a Car Tire
Maurice Hill was accused of violating his supervised release in the federal gun case.
The court records say that a probation officer presented a report about the “conduct and attitude” of Maurice Hill, who was placed on supervised release by Judge Paul S. Diamond in Philadelphia in 2010. He “fixed the period of supervision at three years.”
Maurice Hill was sent to prison for 55 months and then was to be on supervised release for three years. He was supposed to meet special conditions, such as refraining from drug use, providing tax returns to to the probation office, and participating in a vocational training program.
However, in 2013, as a result of “not answering truthfully the inquiries” of the probation officer, the court “modified the defendant conditions of release to include placement in a residential reentry center for a period of 60 days,” the court records say.
On May 15, 2014, Hill appeared before Magistrate Judge M. Faith Angell and the “court released the defendant on $10,000 OR bail, and placed him on home confinement with electronic monitoring pending disposition of the violation petition,” according to the records.
The court documents listed the following accusations from the probation officer about Hill: Hill was arrested by Philadelphia police in 2014 and accused of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, criminal conspiracy and violation of the controlled substance act.
The documents say a complainant told police that Hill wanted her to sell marijuana for him. She saw a black handgun on a dresser in a bedroom and crack cocaine and marijuana in the residence, the reports contend. She feared Hill would harm her and called 911. She alleged that Hill and another man put drugs behind a car tire. Officers went to the home and found 83 grams of marijuana above the car tire, valued at $830. They also found packaging materials used in drug dealing, according to the federal court records reviewed by Heavy.
According to CBS3, four women were rescued from the second floor of the home in the August 14 incident and said that officers saved them.
Temple University tweeted: “Lockdown is in effect for Health Sciences Center Campus. Seek shelter. Secure doors. Be silent. Be still. Police are responding.”
CNN reported that President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting.
5. The DA Described Maurice Hill as Very Animated
Krasner confirmed he got a call from Hill’s attorney and was trying to bring about a “peaceful resolution” during the midst of the standoff.
Maurice Hill was in a very “animated, excited frankly dangerous state… emotionally he seemed to be on the one hand reaching out to someone to try to end the situation without being killed and also in a way that he would somehow find acceptable,” said Krasner. “On the other hand, he seemed to be a man at the other end was holding a gun… and needed to be brought to a calmer place. I did what I could.”
He said he and Hill’s attorney were trying to “get him to a more rational position.”
Within a couple minutes, the attorney “three ways in Maurice Hill” with Krasner on the phone and so Krasner said he didn’t have time to consult with police commanders first.
“In a perfect world…I would have liked to do that but there was no way to do that,” he said, adding that he’s not a trained hostage negotiator.
“What was important is we were able to calm him down and slow the process down a little bit.” He said the police then did the “brilliant things that they did.”
“Someone who has a hot gun in his hand…that is someone you want to slow down,” said Krasner.
CBS3 reported, through sources, that the suspect was “live-streaming some of the shootout while he barricaded himself inside a building” and authorities were trying to shut it down. The video was not visible on his public Facebook page, however. Authorities had not confirmed this information. Social media reports indicated it derived from scanner traffic.
The ATF was among the agencies that responded to the scene.
A television video showed a different man being taken into custody, but it wasn’t clear why.
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