By Ron Todt And Matt Rourke, The Associated Press on February 7, 2024.
EAST LANSDOWNE, Pa. (AP) – Two police officers were wounded Wednesday by gunfire at a suburban Philadelphia home that was later set on fire and consumed by the blaze, authorities said.
Officers from East Lansdowne, Lansdowne and Upper Darby responded to the house in East Lansdowne in the afternoon after a 911 call reporting that an 11-year-old girl had been shot, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said.
They immediately came under fire. One officer was shot in the arm and the other in the leg, officials said. They were both described by Stollsteimer as male, veteran officers. One works for the East Lansdowne department, the other for Lansdowne.
Officers from Upper Darby saved their lives by dragging them out of danger, he added, and “we expect them to be perfectly fine.”
The house was then set on fire, he said. Intense flames were initially seen rising from the roof and top floor of the three-story home before spreading to the lower levels, largely gutting the structure.
By evening the blaze appeared to have been all but extinguished, with smoke still rising from the wreckage as firefighters worked the scene. The side of a neighboring home was also charred.
The entire block was evacuated, according to the district attorney.
There was no immediate word on the condition of anyone inside the home, including the child who was reported wounded.
“We don’t know who was in the house, we don’t know who the shooter was, we don’t know how many people are in there, we don’t know their status, we don’t know if they’re alive,” Stollsteimer said.
Upper Darby Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt described a volatile and dangerous scene when officers from his department officers responded to the home and were able to rescue the two wounded agents.
“All officers that were on scene initially were taking on fire, and then when they removed themselves from it, there was no more gunfire at that point,” Bernhardt said.
A WPVI-TV helicopter over the scene captured officers with ballistic shields dragging an officer down a sidewalk to an ambulance.
East Lansdowne is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) west of downtown Philadelphia.
This story has been updated to correct that one of the officers is with the East Lansdowne department and the other is with Lansdowne.
Todt reported from Philadelphia.