Philadelphia police say an undercover officer shot a fleeing 12-year-old boy in the back, moments after a bullet was fired into an unmarked car
PHILADELPHIA — An undercover Philadelphia police officer fatally shot a 12-year-old boy in the back Tuesday night, moments after a bullet was fired into an unmarked car, police said.
Police identified the youngster as Thomas Siderio Jr., saying officers took him to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where he was pronounced dead minutes after the shooting. The police statement Wednesday described Siderio as white.
One of the four officers in the car was struck by shards of glass in the face and eyes, and was treated and released, police said.
In a statement on Wednesday, police said the four plainclothes officers were in an unmarked car in South Philadelphia around 7:20 p.m. Tuesday as part of a task force responding to social media posts involving a firearm. Officers said they saw two young men in a corner – one of whom appeared to be carrying a handgun – and recognized the older one as someone wanted for questioning in connection with this firearms investigation.
Officers activated the car’s emergency red and blue lights, then heard a gunshot and the rear passenger window shattered, police said.
Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Naish said the bullet passed through the window, ricocheted off the passenger door and through the passenger side headrest, saying the officers could very easily have been killed or seriously injured. He spoke during a virtual update on gun violence in the city on Wednesday.
Police said two officers got out of the driver’s side of the car and shot the fleeing youth, who officers said was holding a gun. One of the officers continued to pursue Siderio down the street, shooting twice more and hitting the boy once in the upper right area of the back. The bullet exited through his chest, police said.
The other youth, an unnamed 17-year-old man, was taken into custody in the gun case but was later released, police said.
Naish said officers recovered a laser-equipped 9mm semi-automatic handgun that was reported stolen. He said the gun had one bullet in the chamber and five more in the magazine.
Naish said police could not say for sure on Wednesday that Siderio fired into the police vehicle, or if he pointed the gun at officers as he fled.
Police also did not say whether the weapon recovered was part of the original investigation.
“Although the medical examiner’s indications indicate that the bullet entered his back, this does not mean that he was fleeing or that there was not a weapon pointed at or near the officer. It does not doesn’t mean he wasn’t continuing to be a threat to the officer,” Naish said.
He said ballistic evidence had been collected and police were scouring the area for surveillance footage as part of the investigation. None of the plainclothes officers wore body cameras, he said.
The two officers who fired their weapons have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.