By Jennifer Bernstein, Oren Liebermann, Cherri Gregg, Tim Jimenez and Jericka Duncan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia police are on the hunt for the suspect alleged to have shot and killed off-duty 22nd District Police Officer Moses Walker Junior early Saturday morning in North Philadelphia. Walker, a 19-year veteran of the police force, was killed on his way home from the overnight shift.
It was around 6 a.m., and police say Officer Walker was walking to the bus stop at 20th and Cecil B. Moore. He was in civilian clothing according to police commissioner Charles Ramsey, when the suspect approached him.
“And during that confrontation, the officer was shot several times and he succumbed to his wounds,” Ramsey said.
Police say Officer Walker was shot once in the chest and once in the stomach. His gun was out of his holster, under his body when they found him so he may have been trying to fire back. Walker was rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“He is survived by his mother and his five siblings. And again, they are very distraught as is all the officers, the men and women of the 22nd district and our entire police department,” Ramsey said.
Walker’s family says he was a deacon at a church and that he planned on retiring next year after nearly 20 years with the department and they city. They say Walker was already counting down the months.
“Just to get that phone call this morning and still be in shock and awe is just mind-blowing,” Walker’s cousin, Donna Seawright, said. “I just wish the violence would stop. And just to hurt someone, just to take someone’s life from their family, it just hurts me so bad.”
Mayor Michael Nutter issued a statement Saturday sending his condolences to the family and urging anyone with information to contact police. He also has ordered the city’s flags to be lowered to half-staff to honor Walker.
The City is offering a $20,000 reward that is standard for any homicide, and the Fraternal Order of Police is offering $10,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Ramsey told reporters that the shooting death is a blow for a department that was just mourning the loss of Highway Patrol motorcycle officer Brian Lorenzo, who was killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 95 last month.
“We literally just removed the mourning bands from our badges last week for Officer Lorenzo, and now it appears we may be putting them right back on again, so it’s tough,” Ramsey said.
Walker is the third Philadelphia police officer to be killed this year.
“This department has been through an awful lot,” Ramsey added. “In just the 4½ years that I’ve been here, this would be the seventh officer we’ve lost, which is more than some departments get in 20 years.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)