A Philadelphia police officer was released from the hospital on Saturday after being wounded in an airport shooting that killed another officer, and police were still searching for the shooting suspects.
A line of fellow officers saluted and applauded as Officer Raul Ortiz, 60, was wheeled out of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital to a waiting SUV.
«We’re thankful for today’s release of our hero officer, Raul Ortiz and hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery,» Philadelphia FOP Lodge 5 President, John McNesby, said. «Like Officer Ortiz, we’re all mourning the loss and death of our colleague and friend, officer Richard Mendez. We pray and offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow Philadelphia police officers.» Commissioner Stanford
Department officials said Mendez, a 22-year veteran of the department, was married and had a daughter and that Ortiz — who has spent 20 years on the force — was married with three children.
Gov. Josh Shapiro added: “I know words cannot express my anger and sadness nor any of yours, and I know we all join in collective prayer for our fallen police officer and for every single woman and man who puts on that uniform.”
Mendez, of Somerton, spent many years as a beat cop in the 25th District, patrolling some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods in North Philadelphia. He had been reassigned to the Airport Unit in recent years — widely considered a low-stress detail where cops could spend a few years winding down before retirement.
Ortiz, a 20-year veteran of the force, was shot in the arm when he and Officer Richard Mendez confronted several people breaking into a vehicle in a parking garage at Philadelphia International Airport at about 11 p.m. Thursday. Fifty-year-old Mendez, who had been on the force for more than two decades, was shot multiple times and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Authorities said the suspects fled in an SUV reported stolen a week ago that was later seen at a hospital dropping off 18-year-old Jesus Herman Madera Duran, who authorities say was believed to be involved in the confrontation with the officers. Duran had been shot in the chest, abdomen, and left arm and was pronounced dead around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
Authorities said it wasn’t clear if any other suspects were wounded in the shooting, or how many of them had fired weapons. Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford noted that the shooting came only a week after three officers were shot and wounded while responding to a call and called the new shooting “a numb, numb moment for us.”
Stanford said that the slain officer’s gun has not been located, and it wasn’t immediately known whether anyone fired it. Police released a video showing “at least one suspect” and the vehicle used to drop Madera Duran off at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
A reward totaling was offered for information leading to an arrest, as the $30,000 posted by two local police unions was supplemented by money from other police groups, businesses and Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents. That’s in addition to $20,000 offered by the city for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
A reward for tips and information leading to an arrest of suspects involved in Thursday night’s shooting has grown to $184,500.
President Joe Biden, who was in Philadelphia on Friday, offered his condolences the families of the officers, saying «They put their lives on the line to protect this community.”