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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tension is building in West Philadelphia over the police-involved shooting of a previous grad student from Ethiopia. The investigation is stirring fresh outrage in the case.
Police were in search of a stabbing victim before they shot 25-year-old Kaleb Belay multiple times Wednesday night. However, no stabbing victim was found.
Now, there’s an internal investigation while Belay remains in the hospital in stable condition.
At this point of the investigation, there are a lot more questions than answers.
“I just came from work around almost 6 p.m., and about a half-hour later, that’s when I heard gunshots around outside,” Eyob Mekonnen said.
Mekonnen describes the moment his roommate, Belay, was shot six times by a 27-year-old Philadelphia police officer.
“A police officer approached me and said someone called 911 to this address and they came inside and looked around the house,” Mekonnen said.
According to police, officers were responding to a report of a stabbing.
When officers arrived, they spotted Belay outside holding a kitchen knife. After ignoring commands to drop the knife, the officers said Belay continued to walk towards them and that’s when one officer opened fire.
“He’s a really nice guy, he’s not a troublemaker or anything. He’s either at work or at school,” Mekonnen said.
Belay is a previous Temple University graduate student from Ethiopia and has only lived here for a year. His family has hired an attorney.
“Right now, what we know is a young man, who came here and is a grad student, who works, doesn’t bother anyone, and literally is an example of what every man and woman within the Ethiopian community signifies, was shot six times in a manner that’s just far beyond what we can even fathom at this point,” attorney Simon Haileab said.
As the family continues to search for answers, they’re asking for your prayers as police continue their investigation.
“We want the entire city of Philadelphia to understand that this man is not a crazy, knife-wielding suspect, as what was suggested,” Haileab said.
Police were not able to give any more information, being that this is an active investigation.
A spokesperson told Eyewitness News said Belay will be arrested for assault on an officer once he recovers, but the charges will be left up to the district attorney’s office.