On Thursday night, Penn Police arrested a male suspect and previously convicted felon with a firearm after fleeing in a car.
At 10:47 p.m., two Penn Police officers approached a vehicle around 33rd and Market streets, after observing a traffic violation, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said. Upon getting closer to the car, officers smelled “a strong odor of marijuana,” Rush said. A male driver and female passenger were in the car, and when police asked them to exit, the driver instead drove off, Rush added.
The woman successfully got out of the car just before the driver took off, but the driver continued to flee. She sustained minor injuries and was given medical care but was not charged with any crimes.
Throughout, PennComm tracked the car on its closed-circuit television system. The driver eventually stopped midblock on 3400 Sansom St. and walked westbound toward 36th Street.
When officers approached the suspect, they observed him throwing an object next to a car, Rush said. The officers arrested the suspect and brought him back to the police car, and then investigated where he had thrown the object. Officers found a 9mm firearm in a holster, Rush said.
Since the suspect is a felon, convicted in multiple states, he is not legally able to own, purchase or carry a firearm. The Division of Public Safety is turning over that part of the case to the Pennsylvania state task force on guns. Though he has yet to be formally charged and will likely be arraigned later today, she expects he will be charged with driving under the influence and violation of the Firearms Act.
No shots were fired during this incident, and Rush said the suspect never took the gun out of the holster or pointed it at officers. She presumes he dropped the weapon so that officers would not find it on him when he was arrested.
The suspect, a 32-year-old man, is unaffiliated with the University, Rush said.
Rush said the event was over so quickly, there was no time or need to issue a UPenn Alert, since the suspect was quickly in police custody.
“The situation was brought under control [in] less than a minute by the police officers and there was no ongoing danger to the community, therefore an alert was not issued,” she said.
Rush commended officers and PennComm operators involved in the arrest.
“It was a great job in that the police and our CCTV operators worked in unison to make sure that the individual with the weapon was taken in immediately and never lost our sight,” Rush said. “When they stop cars, they don’t know what they’re going to find.”
Clarification: This article and headline has been updated to clarify that the suspect's car was not chased by police cars but was followed via CCTV camera operators. Police cars later intervened based on the location tracked by CCTV operators.
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