Police Officer Gunned Down During Attempted Robbery Inside North Philly GameStop

UPDATE: Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Officer Wilson was at the GameStop to buy a gift for his son.

Philadelphia Police are in mourning after the loss of one of their own.

Officer Robert Wilson III, an 8-year veteran with the 22nd District, died from his injuries after he was shot several times at close range during an attempted robbery inside a North Philadelphia GameStop.

The 30-year-old father left behind two young children, as well as a grandmother.

"Take a moment and say a prayer for this family," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. "And this 9-year-old boy who will now grow up without a father. A 1-year-old is going to grow up without a dad because of what happened today."

Mayor Michael Nutter reports the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III, an eight year veteran of the force.

Wilson, who was in full uniform, along with his partner, went inside the GameStop at the Hope Plaza Shopping Center on 2101 West Lehigh Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Suddenly, two armed men came inside and announced a robbery.

"We don't know if they knew he was a police officer or not," Ramsey said. "We suspect, perhaps, they did not."

Wilson immediately confronted the pair, leading to a shootout. The suspects, who were on both sides of the officer, shot at him several times at close range as Wilson returned fire, officials said.

"Even though he was being struck multiple times, he continued to fire until the fatal [[shot]] was fired," Ramsey said.

Customers at the shopping center ran for cover. Sharon Coffield, an employee at the nearby Rainbow Clothing Store, told NBC10 she heard the gunshots and then witnessed part of the shooting.

"My assistant manager ran to the door," Coffield said. "She was getting ready to pull down the bleachers and that's when she saw the cop out there shooting!"

Wilson's partner heard the gunfire and shot at the suspects as well, police said.

"Whoever was in the GameStop, they must've been shooting out," Coffield said. "And he was like, shooting in. And he was running across the lot."

One of the suspects was struck though police have not yet confirmed whether he was shot by Wilson or his partner.

The second suspect who wasn't struck fled the store and tried to blend in with a crowd outside but was quickly apprehended by responding police officers, according to investigators.

A call for an officer down went out at 4:44 p.m. and Wilson was rushed to Temple University Hospital, where he died from his injuries at 6:25 p.m.

"I knew him," Ramsey said. "He was one of the best police officers this city has to offer. A very, very brave, heroic individual. Even though he was struck multiple times he was able to continue to fire." 

The suspect who was shot was taken to Einstein Hospital, though officials have not yet revealed his condition. Police also said the suspects had priors, and one was on parole.

Police later recovered the suspects' weapons at the scene of the shooting, a .40-caliber and a 9mm. One of the weapons had an extended clip, allowing the suspect to fire more rounds than usual, officials said.

Wilson along with his partner were part of the group of 22nd District Officers who volunteered to participate in the trial run of the Philadelphia Police body camera program. During our interview with him in December, Wilson told us he wanted to work to rebuild trust between police and the community.

"It's less negative reaction from the community," Wilson said. "They're recording us and we're recording them also." 

NBC10’s Keith Jones reports from Temple University hospital, as police escorted the body of fallen officer Robert Wilson III, who police say was shot and killed during a robbery in North Philadelphia Thursday. NBC10 spoke with Wilson back in December.

Ramsey also said he met Wilson through the body camera program.

"I had a chance to meet all of them when I stopped by there to talk to them and thank them for volunteering," he said.

Ramsey did not confirm whether or not Wilson was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting. Police were able to recover surveillance video from the GameStop however. The video was reviewed by homicide investigators.

Ramsey, who is part of a national task force focused on law enforcement's relationship with the local community, also spoke on the danger police officers face on a daily basis.

"People tend to lose sight of the dangers inherent in being a police officer," Ramsey said. "Sometimes they're seriously injured or even murdered as a result of trying to protect every single person in this city...He put his life on the line to make Philadelphia a better city and a safer city."

Commissioner Ramsey spoke on the death of Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III and the daily danger police officers face in order to protect the community.

A police procession was held for Officer Wilson Thursday night as an ambulance transported his body to the Medical Examiner's Office.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf also released a statement on Wilson's death.

“My deepest condolences are with Officer Robert Wilson’s family tonight and his colleagues at the Philadelphia Police Department, especially the officers of the 22nd District," Wolf wrote. "This senseless act is devastating and a stark reminder of the danger faced everyday by our brave men and women in uniform. Across Pennsylvania, members of law enforcement and our first responders put their lives on the line to protect our families and our communities. We can never forget their selfless service and sacrifice.”

Officer Wilson is the eighth Philadelphia Police officer to die from a gunshot since 2006, according to the Fraternal Order of Police. Moses Walker, who was also from the 22nd District, was the last Philadelphia Police officer to lose his life. He was shot and killed after finishing his shift back on Aug. 18, 2012.

One of the gunmen convicted in Walker's death will be formally sentenced to life in prison Friday.

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