Tensions ran high in the Philadelphia Police Department Sunday in the wake of an attempted assassination of an officer by a man allegedly claiming he did it "in the name of Islam" after an anonymous tip to officers on Saturday said the threat against police in the city is ongoing.
According to a police report obtained by NBC10, an anonymous tipster told officers that, "the threat to police is not over" and that the man who shot Officer Jesse Hartnett is "part of a group that consists of three others," adding that the alleged shooter "is not the most radical of the four." The report obtained Sunday goes on to say the tipster told police to "be careful.”
Law enforcement officials confirmed Sunday afternoon that police did indeed receive a tip that Edward Archer, the man accused of approaching Hartnett's patrol car at 60th and Spruce streets Thursday night and opening fire on him at point-blank range, was working among a small group of radical men. Authorities said the tip came from a woman who approached an officer on the street.
"Very concerned, we don't quite know what to make of it as of yet," said Police Commissioner Richard Ross Monday morning. "So we're going to take every precaution necessary. There might not be anything to it but we're not going to take any chances with that. We've got to protect our police officers, that's paramount."
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Philadelphia Police officers are riding with a partner in patrol vehicles as a precaution.
Police were issuing memos to all law-enforcement agencies to warn them to stay vigilant as the investigation continues.
Senior law enforcement sources confirmed with NBC News that members of a federal and local Joint Terrorist Task Force are taking the tip seriously as well. Philadelphia Police also confirmed the FBI is investigating the possible threat.
The tipster claimed Archer attended two Philadelphia mosques. An administrator at one of the mosques told NBC10 he did not know the suspect. While the mosque is open to the public, members say any claim that Archer was possibly radicalized while attending is not true because they preach against extremism.
"It's very easy to point the finger and blame or to just throw an accusation around," the administrator said. "It's a different story altogether when you actually come in and listen to our sermons and listen to our lessons."
Hartnett, 33, a five-year veteran, remained hospitalized on Sunday with three gunshot wounds to his arm. Doctors were working to repair nerve damage caused by the bullets.
Investigators over the weekend said that so far, they had not found anything linking Archer, 30, to the Islamic State militant group, though Archer, according to police, pledged allegiance to the group, commonly known as ISIS.
Investigators are trying to determine if trips Archer took to Egypt and Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012 were funded by people or organizations with links to terrorism, law enforcement sources told NBC News. Sources say the investigators are trying to find out how Archer, who was unemployed with no prior foreign travel at the time, was able to obtain a passport and pay for an extended stay in the Middle East.
Archer's neighbors said they were skeptical that the man was radicalized.
"He could have said ISIS," said Donald King. "That's possible. But people need to evaluate his mental health."
Archer’s grandfather told NBC10 he wasn’t aware of his grandson having any mental issues. He also said Archer was raised in the Baptist church but converted to Islam several years ago. The grandfather claimed Archer went to Mecca for at least a year and came back, “a changed person.”
Archer was charged over the weekend with attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault on police, illegal gun possession and related offenses. After he was shot, Hartnett managed to get out of his patrol car and return fire at Archer, wounding him in the buttocks.
Officials said the gun Archer used was a stolen police weapon.
Officers across the city on Sunday said they were uneasy in light of the unprovoked attack on Hartnett and the new information given to officers in the same West Philadelphia neighborhood where the shooting happened.
Police continued to investigate the anonymous tip and said they planned to re-interview the tipster.