By Elizabeth Hur
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What started as an undercover investigation ended with gunfire – in broad daylight in the middle of a North Philadelphia neighborhood.
Two suspects are hospitalized and their third accomplice is on the run.
Residents who live and work near the corner of 21st and York Streets say all they could do was duck and pray the barrage of gunfire they heard outside their windows would stay out.
Melanie Peoples, eyewitness said, “Just chaos, police officers everywhere.”
Another eyewitness who only wanted to be identified as “Frenchie” said, “Bang Bang Bang. We just dropped to the floor. It was scary. I’m still shaking.”
In the end, there were at least 38 evidence markers on 21st Street. Police say that’s where four undercover narcotics officers were forced into a gun battle with three robbery suspects around 4:40 Thursday afternoon.
Lt. Ray Evers said, “It starts with a gun point robbery. We have one individual being robbed by two males both armed with guns.”
Police say the one victim flagged down the officers who happened to be in the area for an unrelated investigative work. When confronted by police, authorities say at least one of the suspects began shooting immediately.
Evers explained, “3 of the 4 officers returned fire, striking that male twice in the leg, he is taken to Temple Hospital. The second male jumped into a black vehicle, which was driven by another male so we have three males involved here, they ram into the surveillance vehicle and take off.”
Police say the second suspect and his getaway driver continued to exchange gunfire with the officers as they sped away. Police later found the getaway car abandoned near the 1600 block of Toronto Street. Police say they also recovered another key piece of evidence from the scene.
“A 32 caliber semi automatic handgun is recovered on scene. We believe that’s the weapon that was fired at police,” Lt. Evers said.
As for the suspects, police say a 20-year-old man was transported to the hospital from the scene. A 22-year-old man later showed up at a hospital in a private vehicle. Both suspects as of Thursday night were at Temple University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The search for the third suspect is continuing.