An off-duty police officer was shot while shielding his young son from gunfire along a North Philadelphia street Friday evening.
Angelo Romero, an officer in the department's 15th District, and the 2-year-old were standing along Parrish Street near 10th around 4:45 p.m. when two or three teens come around the corner with guns.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the teens, who could be between 15 and 18 years old, began firing at each other.
Romero was struck by at least one bullet in the thumb, Ross said. Bullet fragments also peppered his legs and buttocks.
The officer, who was not armed, ran his son into a relative's home and tried to take himself to the hospital, Ross said. The boy was not physically injured, though witnesses said his dad's blood splattered on his face.
A highway officer on patrol nearby rushed to the scene and took Romero to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Ross said it appears Romero was caught in the crossfire and not the intended target.
"He was just so, so lucky. We are so glad that his 2-year-old was not struck and that he took immediate action to protect his son," Ross said.
"We've got these young guys out here with these guns, just wanting violence. It makes no sense," he said.
Investigators combed lawns for evidence using flashlights as twilight took hold over the neighborhood, which is made up of single-family and duplex homes owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. The development, named Richard Allen Homes, is just south of Girard Avenue in lower North Philadelphia.
Officers identified several surveillance cameras in the area which they hope caught the shooting on video. Romero believes he can identify at least one of the suspects, Ross said. They remain at large.
Romero is in pain, but is expected to be OK, Ross said. He could be released from the hospital late Friday.
Later Friday, a second shooting took place three blocks away from where Romero was hit. In that shooting at 13th and Parrish, a 38-year-old man was shot eight times inside a car, police said. He died from his injuries.
Police said they are investigating whether there's a link between the two shootings.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Philadelphia Police tipline at 215.686.TIPS.