A man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group shot and seriously wounded a police officer in Philadelphia, opening fire multiple times at point-blank range with a stolen police gun before he was arrested, officials said Friday.
The apparent assassination attempt comes amid heightened security — and paranoia — in the United States following last month’s assault by a radicalized Muslim couple in California that killed 14 people, and the November terror attacks in Paris.
Policeman Jesse Hartnett, 33, was shot three times in his left arm as he sat in his patrol car late Thursday in the northeastern city. “I’m shot. I’m bleeding heavily,” he yelled in a dispatch call.
Authorities said they were astonished he survived.
Philadelphia police commissioner Richard Ross called the attack “absolutely chilling” and described the officer’s injuries as “very, very serious.”
Stills captured from video surveillance and released to the press show the suspect — named by police as Edward Archer, 30, a local man — opening fire as he walked towards the patrol car, extending his arm into the vehicle and then continuing to fire as he flees on foot.
“If that doesn’t just make the hairs on your neck just rise when you see that, it’s scary,” Ross told reporters.
The officer got out of his vehicle, despite being injured, and managed to return fire, hitting the suspect, who was quickly arrested.
“He stated that he pledges his allegiance to Islamic State, follows Allah and that is the reason he was called upon to do this,” homicide police Captain James Clark told a news conference.
Police said Archer has a criminal record, but that it was unclear whether he acted alone or as part of a wider conspiracy.
“He doesn’t appear to be a stupid individual, just an extremely violent one,” Ross said.
Ross added that he was “absolutely amazed” that Hartnett, an officer with four years’ experience, had survived. “This man fired at least 11 shots from a nine millimeter at close range,” he said.