Ross on Recovering Officer: “The Fact He’s Here Is Amazing”

At a joint press conference, Sen. Bob Casey, Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Richard Ross gave and update on the shooting of Officer Jesse Hartnett.

Sen. Bob Casey, Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Richard Ross gave a joint press conference today to give an update on the condition of Officer Jesse Hartnett, as well as announce Casey’s support for a bill in Congress that would establish federal, state and local partnerships to fight “violent extremism.”

Hartnett was shot while on patrol early last Friday. Ross thanked the public for the outpouring of support for Hartnett, who still has a long recovery ahead of him. He said it did not look like Hartnett would lose his arm.

“I don’t want to get into the specifics, but he sustained significant injuries,” Ross said. “I understand people hear ‘shot in the arm’ and they may not think it’s that big of a deal. All you have to do is look at the video and you can kind of surmise from that how significant his injuries are. The fact that he’s here is amazing.”

Police said the day of the shooting that the shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS. Edward Archer, a 30-year-old from Delaware County, was arrested in the shooting. Police later said a woman approached an officer on the street and said Archer was part of a group involving three others, and that he was the least extremist of the three.

Ross said no additional arrests have been made. He said officers are now doubling up on patrols, but that it is still a temporary measure. Responding to a question from Fox 29’s Bruce Gordon — who dominated the press conference — about whether a lone wolf attack was more dangerous than an organized one, Casey said it works both ways.

“Look, they’re both significant threats,” he said. “It is a kind of practice now that we have to be ready for these kinds of incident.”

Casey was briefed on the investigation into the shooting of Hartnett before the joint press conference. The ostensible reason for the presser was to announce Casey’s support for the Community Partnerships Act of 2015, which was introduced late last year. That bill would establish a federal Office for Community Partnerships, which would coordinate “with communities to address vulnerabilities that can be exploited by violent extremists in the United States.”

“Law enforcement officers like Officer Hartnett and his colleagues here at the Philadelphia Police Department are increasingly on the front lines of our homeland security,” Casey said. “The federal government must offer these professionals all the resources, training, and support they need to keep our communities safe. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to safeguard our communities and ensure safety.”

Kenney was asked several times about his comments last week that “in no way, shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam has anything to do” with the shooting. The Daily NewsStu Bykofsky even shouted at him as Kenney walked away, asking if he would retract his statement from last week.

“I don’t think speculation is effective,” Kenney said earlier in the press conference,”You make a determination based on facts and not speculations. … What I said was that the 200,000 Muslims who live in Philadelphia are not represented by the actions of Edward Archer. Those who are God-fearing, tax-paying Americans should not be painted with that brush.”

Casey stopped short of calling it a terrorist attack. “We had a violent incident here,” he said. “It’s on the record that he made an assertion that he was inspired by ISIS. I’m going to leave it to the security professionals to make a definitive determination on what happened.”

Pennsylvania’s other senator, Pat Toomey, spoke after visiting Hartnett in the hospital. He said it was a terrorist attack, saying Archer had been “radicalized.”

“The dangers of radial Islamist terrorism are not limited to countries far away,” Toomey said. “It’s not just the civil wars that are raging in the Middle East or acts against civilians in Paris and Beirut and Jakarta, but it’s attacks against Americans at Fort Hood and San Bernardino — and now Philadelphia.”

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