Philadelphia Police exchanged gunfire with two armed robbers outside the Wawa Food Market on the 3900 block of Walnut Street early Friday morning before chasing one man nine blocks through West Philadelphia. Two police officers surprised the suspects as they left the store at 4 a.m., and one robber shot at the officers and tried to escape to a stolen car they had left at 39th and Sansom streets. Police eventually arrested the gunman, but not until he led police on a high-speed car chase through West Philadelphia in a stolen car and ran down an innocent bystander. The other suspect escaped. One police officer suffered minor injuries in the chase but neither the suspects or police officers were hit during the gunfire. No students were involved in the incident. Canada said Philadelphia Police officers Kevin and James Godfrey, who are brothers, were driving a police van on Walnut Street just after 4 a.m. Friday when they noticed that the clerk inside Wawa had his hands in the air and one of the customers was holding a handgun. They drove past the store, and Officer James Godfrey stepped out of the van to wait for the robbers to come out. Canada said it is police policy to not interrupt armed robberies. She said it is safer for police to try to catch suspects when there are no innocent people in the way. Entering the store, she said, would have put the clerk in more danger. Canada said Friday that University Police were still waiting for a report from a private security guard who patrols the 3900 block of Walnut and watches other University-owned properties up to 43rd and Pine streets. Canada said the unarmed guard apparently did not witness the robbery or shooting. "That's not saying they weren't doing their job," she said. "They just weren't at Wawa at the time." When the two robbers left the store, James Godfrey ordered them to halt. The gunman, Mark McCrea, 26, of the 1600 block of 54th Street, immediately fired on him twice. Godfrey fired back and chased the robber north on 39th Street, firing three more times. The other suspect apparently escaped. Kevin Godfrey joined the chase in his van at 39th and Sansom streets. The gunman then fired at the van and the officer shot back. McCrea then drove west on Sansom Street in a car that had been stolen earlier in the night, and Godfrey and several other police officers chased him down the narrow street. Henderson, the injured man, had just stepped out of his wife's car on the 4800 block of Sansom when McCreas car plowed into him. The gunman lost control of his getaway car, which careened into several parked cars and flipped over. Apparently unhurt in the crash, McCrea climbed out of the wrecked car and fled on foot. Police spotted him minutes later near a housing development on the 400 block of Busti Street, where an officer fired at the suspect after a struggle. McCrea was eventually caught on 46th Street and Haverford Avenue by two more officers and charged with robbery, aggravated assault and resisting arrest. Several students living in the High Rises reported hearing gunshots from their rooms. Nursing junior Tracy Lawrence said she and a roommate were awakened by the shots and watched police corner the gunman at 39th and Sansom streets from their window. Police recovered some of the $150 stolen in the robbery in the overturned car. Police have not yet found the gun. Canada also said police seem to have followed proper procedure in chasing the suspect, even though the high-speed chase led to Henderson's injuries. She said city and University Police policies call for officers to pursue felons as long as they have the suspect in sight. Three years ago, the 39th to 40th and Walnut streets area became one of the most dangerous parts of campus. During the 1987-88 school year the block was the scene of a triple stabbing and a fatal shooting. A University student was shot the next year outside the movie theater on 40th Street. After quieting down for a while, the area is again being plagued by violent crime. Two Philadelphia men were killed and two more injured at 40th and Sansom streets September 1. Last weekend, a University student was shot just above the right eye with a BB or pellet gun.Comments powered by Disqus
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