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Watch: 2 Pa. officers dragged to safety after being shot at home that later erupted in flames

The two officers immediately came under fire after responding to the home; six to eight people, including children, remain unaccounted for following the fire

By Matt Rourke and Tassanee Vejpongsa
Associated Press

EAST LANSDOWNE, Pa. — Authorities were searching the charred remains of a suburban Philadelphia home Thursday morning, a day after a shootout and fire left two police officers wounded and at least six people unaccounted for.

Firefighters were also still on the scene and wisps of smoke were still visible from the charred remains of the house. Heavy machinery moved into the neighborhood as investigators prepared to search the home for the six missing people following a police shootout that wounded two officers.

An excavator was being used to tear down the walls left standing after the fire gutted the building.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer had said Wednesday “multiple people” inside the home may not have survived.

“We are hopeful that that is not true,” he said.

Officers responded to the house in East Lansdowne around 3:45 p.m. after a 911 call reporting that an 11-year-old girl had been shot, Stollsteimer said.

They immediately came under fire. One officer was shot in the arm and the other in the leg, officials said. They were both described by Stollsteimer as male, veteran officers. One works for the East Lansdowne department, and the other for neighboring Lansdowne.

Officers from Upper Darby saved their lives by dragging them out of danger, he said.

Authorities believe the home was set on fire by someone inside. Intense flames were initially seen rising from the roof and top floor of the three-story home before spreading to the lower levels, largely gutting the structure.

Stollsteimer said later Wednesday that six to eight people, including children, were unaccounted for. He said the fire was still smoldering and no one would be able to search the site until Thursday.

There was no more information about the child who was reported wounded.

The whereabouts of the person who fired at the officers also weren’t clear, but Stollsteimer said there were “no threats to the community from that house.”

Upper Darby Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt described a volatile and dangerous scene when officers from his department responded to the home and were able to rescue the two wounded officers.

“All officers that were on scene initially were taking on fire, and then when they removed themselves from it, there was no more gunfire at that point,” Bernhardt said.

A WPVI-TV helicopter over the scene captured officers with ballistic shields dragging an officer down a sidewalk to an ambulance.

Stollsteimer said he had seen the wounded officers at the hospital and they were doing well.

The Rev. Moses Dennis, pastor at the nearby Faith Immanuel Lutheran Church, said he and others put the church and its child care center on lockdown when they saw police running down the street. They were later able to evacuate the children safely, he said, but everyone was still in shock.

East Lansdowne is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) west of downtown Philadelphia.


Todt reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press Video Journalist Tassanee Vejpongsa contributed to this report.