A Philadelphia Police detective stopped a robbery Thursday night at a popular pizza joint in Northeast Philly, getting in a shootout with a gunman who, it turned out, was literally firing blanks. That suspect died, but another is still being sought.
Late on Thursday night, around 11:30 p.m., an off-duty Philadelphia Police detective dressed in regular street clothes stopped by Rising Sun Pizza at 6919 Rising Sun Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia to pick up some dinner.
While he was inside the family-run pizzeria waiting for his food, two other men entered the store. According to police, the men announced they were there to rob the pizzeria, and one of the men pulled out a gun and put it to the head of the detective, who was the only customer at the time. They took the $20 he was holding in his hand and made him get on the floor.
Meanwhile, a Rising Sun Pizza employee and the son of the pizza shop’s owner were still behind the counter, and the suspects turned their attention to them. It was then that the detective announced himself as a police officer and pulled out his gun.
Police say that’s when one of the would-be robbers started shooting, firing in the direction of the cop. Luckily, the crook decided to bring a six-shot blank gun revolver to the robbery — the cartridges produced noise and a muzzle flash, police said, but no projectiles — so the shooting did nothing to the cop.
The off-duty detective responded with gunfire of his own, hitting the one who shot at him. Police say that suspect was shot multiple times in the torso by the cop. The two suspects ran out of the store, and the one shot in the torso fell over nearby on the 500 block of Tyson Avenue. That suspect, described as a 33-year-old male, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter.
The other suspect got away, and it is unclear whether he was struck by the officer’s gunfire or not. He is described only as a male of unknown age wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and a mask. Police say that the entire incident was documented by the pizza shop’s security cameras.
“He is a true hero,” Rising Sun Pizza owner Sam Nalbandian tells Philadelphia magazine, adding that he has not had a problem with robberies in the past. “That is not an easy thing to do, and he is, of course, all shook up. It’s a shame.”