A Philadelphia man made a fatal mistake on Wednesday night when he decided to target a stranger on a city street as his next robbery victim. As it turns out, that man was armed as well, and according to police he shot and killed the would-be robber in self-defense.
A 24-year-old man was smoking a cigarette outside his house on the 2200 block of South 6th Street when a man approached on a bicycle, according to police.
He told police he pulled his gun on the suspected robber as he got off his bike and announced a robbery. Police say he has a valid permit to carry the gun.
One shot was fired, hitting the suspect in the head.
The suspect also allegedly pulled his gun firing one or two shots, which did not strike the victim.
According to police, the robbery victim remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators, and based on media reports at this point it doesn’t look like there’s any evidence pointing away from this being officially ruled an act of self-defense.
Philadelphia’s violent crime rate has been soaring since the start of the pandemic two years ago, and homicides reached an all-time high last year with 562 murders reported. As of early April, murders have dropped 10% compared to the same time period in 2021, which is a positive sign but not much comfort to Philly residents who are well aware that the city has a long way to go when it comes to public safety. A recent poll by Pew Charitable Trusts found crime and public safety was the number one concern for more than 70% of respondents, with poverty and homelessness a distant second at 14%.
With crime on the minds of that many residents, it’s not particularly shocking that a number of them would choose to legally arm themselves for self-defense, even though Philadelphia officials have gone out of their way at times over the past couple of years to make that as hard as possible. In the early days of the pandemic the city even shut down its Gun Permit Unit, leading to delays of more than a year in processing concealed carry applications and eventually a lawsuit that challenged the slow-walking of permits to law-abiding residents.
That lawsuit was ultimately settled, with the city agreeing to resume processing applications within the time allotted under state law, and we haven’t heard of any issues with the application process in the months since. Hopefully any and all Philadelphia gun owners who want to be able to legally protect themselves outside of their home are now able to do so without the city dragging its heels, because the violence isn’t likely to subside anytime soon, despite new efforts by the Philadelphia police to make more arrests in non-fatal shootings.
My phone goes off all night long,” says Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum, a 26-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department. “Triples, quadruples, quintuples — one after another.”
Rosenbaum is a squad commander with a new citywide team of about 40 detectives focused specifically on nonfatal shootings.
“We’re modeling a lot of our things on what homicide does,” Rosenbaum says at the scene of what he judges to be a “run-by shooting” outside a Chinese takeout store in early March. The street has been closed and yellow evidence markers show the trail of spent bullet casings.
“Two detectives will go to the hospital, two detectives will process the scene,” Rosenbaum says. He says it’s more manpower than they used to dedicate to an incident with minor injuries. And he says the citywide approach also makes it easier to find connections between different shootings.
Right now the city is clearing only about one in four non-fatal shootings, with homicide clearance rates hovering around 50%. If violent criminals believe that they can get away with shootings with impunity, you’re going to see more of them, and the hope is that by bringing the clearance rate up, the violent crime rate will go down.
Philadelphia’s criminal class shouldn’t only be concerned about ending up in handcuffs, however. With a growing number of legal gun owners ready and willing to defend themselves, armed robbers, carjackers, and home invaders also run the very real risk of being shot and killed by their intended victims… as was apparently the case on Wednesday night.