PHILADELPHIA — A man using a gun stolen from police said he was acting in the name of Islam when he ambushed an officer sitting in his marked cruiser at an intersection, firing shots at point-blank range, authorities said Friday. Both the officer and suspect were injured during the barrage of gunfire.
The suspect, 30-year-old Edward Archer, also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group when he was questioned after his arrest in the shooting late Thursday, police said.
The shooting of Officer Jesse Hartnett was an attempted assassination, Police Commissioner Richard Ross said.
“He just came out of nowhere and started firing on him,” Ross said of the suspect. “He just started firing with one aim and one aim only, to kill him.”
Ross said Archer told police he believed the department defends laws that are contrary to Islam.
“It stands to reason there is more unknown than known,” Ross said.
Archer’s mother, Valerie Holliday, told The Philadelphia Inquirer he has been hearing voices recently and that family asked him to get help. She also described him as devout Muslim.
The gunman fired at least 13 shots toward Hartnett and eventually got up next to the car and reached through the driver’s-side window. Despite being seriously wounded, Hartnett got out of his car, chased the suspect and returned fire, wounding his attacker.
Hartnett, 33, was in stable condition. Archer was treated and released into police custody.
“I don’t know how this officer survived,” Ross said.
Police said there was no indication anyone else was involved. Archer has addresses in Philadelphia and the suburb of Yeadon.
The gun used by Archer was stolen from an officer’s home in 2013, police said. Officials said they were trying to figure how Archer got the weapon and whether it passed through other people’s hands in the time since the theft.
The officer’s father, Robert Hartnett, said his son was in good spirits.
“He’s a tough guy,” he said.
Hartnett served eight years in the Coast Guard and joined the police five years ago. He always wanted to be a police officer, his father said.
When Hartnett called in to report shots fired, he shouted, “I’m bleeding heavily!” into his police radio.
The suspect ran away but was quickly apprehended by other officers, authorities said.
Jim Kenney, in his first week as mayor of the nation’s fifth-largest city, said, called Archer’s actions “abhorrent” and “terrible” and said they have nothing to do the teachings of Islam.
“This is a criminal with a stolen gun who tried to kill one of our officers,” he said. “It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.”