PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia police officer was shot in the head and killed after he and his partner exchanged gunfire with two suspects trying to rob a video game store, city officials said Thursday.
The slain officer, Robert Wilson III, fired back even as he was being shot by suspects on either side of him. One was struck and taken to a hospital while the other was in custody, police said.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, red-eyed as he spoke at an evening news conference, said he had met the 30-year-old Wilson and his partner when they took part in a recent pilot program in which officers wore body cameras.
"I knew him, had met him. He was one of the best police officers this city has to offer, period," Ramsey said, standing beside the mayor, the district attorney and other city officials.
It was not immediately clear if Wilson was wearing a body camera when he was shot at 4:44 p.m. Thursday, but authorities did seize video from store security cameras. He was shot multiple times. He was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. at Temple University Hospital.
His survivors include a 9-year-old son and 1-year-old child, Ramsey said.
Wilson and his partner were inside a GameStop, located in a North Philadelphia strip mall, when the two suspects entered and announced a robbery, Ramsey said. The partner also exchanged gunfire with the suspects, but was not shot. Both suspects have prior records, Ramsey said.
"This 9-year-old is going to grow up without a father because of what happened today," Ramsey said. "This 1-year-old is going to grow up without a dad."
Wilson was an eight-year veteran of the department.
"Our thoughts are with the officer," said Joey Mooring, director of public relations at the Texas-based GameStop.
The last city officer killed, 40-year-old Moses Walker Jr., was fatally shot in an attempted robbery as he walked to a bus stop after an overnight shift in August 2012. His assailant was convicted of first-degree murder in December in a nonjury trial that spared a possible death sentence.
Police believe the suspects Thursday were armed with two guns.
"This senseless act is devastating and a stark reminder of the danger faced everyday by our brave men and women in uniform," Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement.