The Philadelphia police officer gunned down during an attempted robbery at a North Philadelphia video game store is being called a hero because he drew gunfire toward himself, and away from patrons in the store.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey credited Officer Robert Wilson III’s actions with preventing more fatalities in the violent shootout between police and the two suspects, which was captured by surveillance cameras inside and outside the store.
“There were civilians there. I counted four behind the counter, a couple in line. He (Wilson) stepped away, so that the shots weren’t going directly at them. They were going toward him,” Ramsey said Friday.
“When you look at the actions of the officer, I think he redefines what a hero is all about.”
Police identified the two suspects as brothers Carlton Hipps, 29 and Ramone Williams, 24, and say they will be charged with Wilson’s murder, along with the attempted murder of Wilson’s partner Damien Stevenson, the robbery of the store and related offenses.
Investigators say Wilson, in uniform, had gone into the GameStop to buy a videogame for his nine-year-old son, who had recently done exceptionally well in school and whose birthday is on Monday.
Hipps and Williams, police say, did not realize a police officer was in the store when they announced the robbery.
Wilson was hit multiple times until one of the bullets struck him in the head.
As Williams and Hipps fled the store, investigators say they encountered Stevenson, who had been waiting for his partner outside. Stevenson shot Hipps in the leg. Williams, according to investigators, ran back into the store where he tried to take off his hoodie in an attempt to blend in with the crowd. He was ultimately identified by patrons inside.
More than 50 bullets were fired in the two gunfights, which elapsed over a total of 30 to 40 seconds, said Capt. James Clark of the homicide division.
Wilson is also survived by a one-year-old baby. Both children are in the care of their mother.
Hipps was convicted of robbery in 2006. He was released from prison in 2009, police said. He remains at Einstein Hospital, where he is shackled with Wilson’s handcuffs.
Williams had been arrested six times before.
Investigators say Williams gave a statement to police in which he said the GameStop robbery was the brothers’ first. Police are investigating those claims.
“They thought it was going to be an easy target,” Capt. Clark said.
Police are also investigating how the men obtained the guns used in the shootout.
A search warrant served on the brothers’ home on Hollywood Street turned up an AK-47, police said.