Bullets that grazed two police officers during a Fourth of July fireworks show in Philadelphia, prompting an evacuation that sent scores of people running from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, came from the same weapon but were probably fired from “quite a distance away,” authorities said.
Chief Inspector Frank Vanore of the Philadelphia Police Department told reporters Wednesday that one .40 caliber round “probably coming in a downward direction” hit the top of an officer’s hat and was found inside. At about the same time Monday night, an officer about 20 feet (6 meters) away was cut on the shoulder by a round from the same gun.
“We believe now, based on no one hearing a gunshot and based on the way this bullet came down, is they were quite a distance away,” Vanore said. Such a bullet could travel more than a mile if unimpeded, so the shooter could have been behind or to the side of the Philadelphia Museum of Art or even on the nearby expressway, he said.
Officers heard no gunshots, no one in the crowd reacted as if they heard anything, and there was no evidence of a muzzle flash, Vanore said. Given the distance, he said it’s unlikely the officers were targeted.
With two officers reported injured, officials had ordered the evacuation of more than a thousand people from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, with only three minor injuries were reported. The officers were treated and released and are recovering at home, officials said.
No arrests have been announced. The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 has announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement that even gunfire not aimed at anyone could lead to charges ranging from reckless endangerment to aggravated assault or beyond.
The gunfire came just hours after a shooting at a holiday parade in suburban Chicago that killed seven people and left at least 30 wounded.
Philadelphia police officials said they will look closely about whether to expand security zones or put up temporary cameras for future events.