Trooper Hurt, Capitol Police Cruiser Struck in Shooting Spree Across Harrisburg; Suspect Shot Dead

The district attorney said there is "no doubt" Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty targeted local, state and Capitol police during a shooting spree that put Harrisburg on edge

Bullets flew near the Pennsylvania Statehouse in Harrisburg on Friday afternoon during a shooting spree that spread two miles across the state capital and left the gunman dead.

Law enforcement officers shot and killed the gunman, who they say fired at police in several locations in Harrisburg. Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said he has "no doubt" the gunman targeted law enforcement.

Authorities said 51-year-old Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty fired several shots at a Capitol police officer at 3rd and Walnut streets in downtown Harrisburg around 4 p.m. Friday, striking his car several times and sending one shot "that went very close to hitting him," Marsico said.

He then fired at a Pennsylvania state trooper a few blocks away at Fifth and Strawberry streets about 30 minutes later, leaving her slightly wounded, the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office said.

The trooper is "doing well," is in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery, Marsico said.

El-Mofty pursued the trooper to a residential neighborhood, where city and state police encountered him at 17th and Mulberry streets, the DA's Office said.

"He approached them with two handguns ... firing many shots at those police officers," and the officers returned fire, killing him, Marsico said.

Eric Heisler / Dauphin County District Attorney's Office
Authorities say Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty went on a shooting spree that left Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on edge Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. He was shot and killed by police.

The "series of shootings" in the center of Pennsylvania's capital city had the entire city gripped with angst and confusion. Those feelings lingered into the evening when the gunman was shot and killed, but police remained unable to approach him due to "a device" on his person, according to NBC affiliate WGAL. The device turned out to be of no importance, authorities said.

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El-Mofty was armed with two handguns, believed to be 9 mm weapons, authorities said.

Marsico said El-Mofty has ties to the Middle East and recently traveled there, but the motive for the attack isn't yet known. 

Marsico said the state trooper who was struck by a bullet is doing well.

A relative, Ahmed Soweilam, told that he and his family doesn't know what to make of the reported actions by El-Mofty, his sister's ex-husband.

"That's not his behavior at all," said Soweilam, co-owner of a Halal store in Camp Hill. "That's not him. I still don't believe it."

Soweilam said the family had been estranged from El-Mofty, who had been married to his sister until they separated about six years ago. He said El-Mofty worked as a security guard and then moved back to Egypt, his former home, until returning a few months ago. He said El-Mofty had no history of violence or mental illness.

"He's not the perfect guy, but he's not an aggressive person," Soweilam said.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said Saturday that El-Mofty was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was admitted to the country from Egypt on a family-based immigrant visa.

"The long chain of migration that led to (El-Mofty's) admission into the United States was initiated years ago by a distant relative," he said in a statement.

Houlton said incidents like the one involving El-Mofty "highlight the Trump administration's concerns with extended family chain migration." He said chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program have been exploited by extremists.

"Not only are the programs less effective at driving economic growth than merit-based immigration systems used by nearly all other countries, the programs make it more difficult to keep dangerous people out of the United States and to protect the safety of every American," he said.

Gov. Tom Wolf said Saturday he had talked to the director of Homeland Security as federal, state and local law enforcement authorities investigate "last night's attack on law enforcement."

In an earlier series of tweets, he thanked officers who "were directly in harm's way."

"They did not hesitate and protected others from harm," Wolf said.

Marsico also expressed gratitude to state and local police for bringing a rapid end to an episode he said could have been much worse.

"This could have been a really tragic incidence with this individual firing many shots at police cars in downtown Harrisburg in the midst of rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon and then coming up here in a residential neighborhood and firing again many shots," he said.

The district attorney's office asked anyone with information about El-Mofty to call 911 or submit a tip online.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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