by Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Philadelphia, PA – Several hundred people are expected to show up for a bizarre protest on Friday night in support of the gunman who shot six Philadelphia police officers.
Organizers told KYW that they expect 200 to 300 people to attend the rally supporting 36-year-old Maurice Hill, who was arrested without injury after a nearly eight-hour standoff on Wednesday.
Hill also trapped two officers and three civilians inside the house during the standoff until SWAT officers were able to free them hours later.
He remained in police custody on Friday waiting to be arraigned on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault, KYW reported.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said police officers would also be at the planned protest to do their jobs, KYW reported.
“Sadly, we do have to be there,” Commissioner Ross told reporters. “I don’t understand it. There’s certain marches I do understand, this is definitely not one of them.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said on Thursday that Hill is a convicted felon with a history of arrests stemming back to the early 2000s.
The gunman’s prior arrest history included “a variety of gun charges,” robbery, reckless endangerment, DUI, perjury, resisting arrest, burglary, escape, illegally taunting a police animal, traffic and driving-related offenses, as well as “multiple charges for aggravated assault [and] for drugs,” the district attorney said.
Hill also served a “lengthy” federal prison sentence for weapons-related offenses, and served time on federal community supervision, Krasner told reporters.
Krasner said he did not know whether or not his office ever handled a possible probation violation hearing involving Hill, but noted that his office has never prosecuted a case against him while Krasner has been in office.
“I think it’s clear – this man should not have been on the streets in the sense that he obviously was a tremendous danger to the public and to law enforcement,” Krasner said. “But if you’re asking me do I believe that everyone in the system going back to 2007 and up until the present has a crystal ball, I do not.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to expect some level of perfect knowledge on the part of police or prosecutors, but it’s obvious…that this is someone who needed to be off the streets, and it is also clear that he had a very lengthy criminal record,” he added.
The investigation into the attack is ongoing, and formal charges have not been filed.
“It is pretty obvious that there should be charges of attempted murder, it’s pretty obvious there should be charges of aggravated assault…pretty obvious that there’s some serious firearms charges – including the fact that he was a felon,” Krasner said, adding that there were also “drugs involved.”
Federal and state agencies have been collaborating on the investigation, and formal charges will be forthcoming.
“There will be a lot of charges,” Krasner vowed. “These are more than enough charges so that Mr. Maurice Hill may never exit jail.”
Krasner said that he spoke with Hill over the phone during the standoff after he received a call from Hill’s attorney, Shaka Johnson.
The gunman was concerned that he would be killed if he left the home, and also had questions about what legal charges he could face, Krasner said.
“We were doing what we could to try to lower the volume, to bring more calm about, to get him to a more rational position,” he told reporters. “The last thing we wanted was to come out of this with officers going in to take him…and have them fired upon or killed or injured.”
Krasner praised Philadelphia police for how they handled the active shooter situation, and said he was not taking any credit for how the incident ended.
The tear gas was what finally drove Hill out of the home, the district attorney said.
“Despite good intentions, it wasn’t anything that I did,” he reiterated. “I truly believe this was just brilliant policing, and maybe a little bit of a miracle.”
All six wounded police officers were released from the hospital on Wednesday night and are at home recovering, KYW reported.