Only hours after police addressed a spike in carjackings in Philadelphia, a legally armed man turned the tables on an armed teenager who tried to steal his vehicle, leaving the suspect in critical condition following a shootout.
The ordeal began Thursday around 7:30 p.m. along the 6500 block of Cherokee Street. A 60-year-old man was leaving his car when he was approached by an armed 16-year-old boy and a second suspect.
The teen pointed his gun at the man and demanded his keys. The man then took out his own weapon and the two fired a total of 17 shots at each other.
The teen boy was shot multiple times and fled the scene inside a jeep. Remarkably, the 60-year-old man was not struck in the shootout despite the teen aiming toward his face, according to investigators.
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“He actually has gunshot residue on his face. On his cheek,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. “He is very, very lucky.”
While the man spoke with responding officers, police received a 911 call reporting a shooting victim nearby on the 6700 block of Germantown Avenue. When they arrived they found a 16-year-old boy inside the jeep suffering from gunshot wounds to both legs and a graze wound to the chest.
The teen was taken to Einstein Hospital where he remains in critical condition. The 60-year-old man identified the teen as the suspect who tried to carjack him. Police have not found the second suspect and plan to obtain surveillance video from a nearby home as they continue to investigate.
Police also recovered the teen suspect’s weapon on the street. Chief Small told NBC10 the jeep that the teen was found inside had been stolen in another carjacking over the weekend.
"We've had an inordinate number of carjackings so far this year and police and detectives are doing their best to recover the cars,” Small said. “We've recovered several cars and we've made several arrests. And we're trying to determine if this is a group or several groups of individuals that are committing these same carjackings."
Shortly before 10 p.m., a suspect crashed a vehicle on Roosevelt Boulevard near 6th Street while being pursued by police. Investigators said that suspect was wanted for an earlier carjacking.
Both incidents occurred a few hours after police addressed a spike in carjackings that have occurred in Philadelphia to start the new year. While there were 750 carjackings in Philadelphia in 2021, there have already been 90 in the city just 13 days into 2022.
“The numbers are above where they were last year so it’s a continuing problem,” Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Ben Naish said.
So far police have arrested seven carjacking suspects this year though only four remain in custody.
“We have identified many of the individuals responsible but we’re working to identify more and put those responsible in jail to put the trend under control,” Naish said.
Naish said many of the suspects are young people who believe they’ll get off easy. Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Roh told NBC10 fewer than half of the people arrested for carjackings in the city in 2021 were juveniles.
“Carjackings overall have increased significantly over the past five years, in Philly and jurisdictions across the U.S.,” Roh wrote.
Roh also provided data on carjacking arrests and charges in Philadelphia between 2017 and 2021.
In most of Philadelphia’s recent carjacking incidents, a gun was involved, such as two high profile incidents last year, one in which Temple University student Sam Collington was killed in North Philadelphia and the other in which Pennsylvania Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon was carjacked in South Philadelphia.
“The victim is almost always caught off guard,” Corey Jones, a retired police officer who now runs a safety consulting firm, told NBC10. “We’re in a vehicle, a place we believe we have safety so we’re not looking around.”
Jones advised people to always be aware of their surroundings and to also think ahead about what they would do in that moment, especially if they have children or pets.
Philadelphia Police said they’re deploying targeted patrols of both uniformed and plainclothes officers and are also bringing in state and federal help to deal with the issue.