By BETH STEBNER
PUBLISHED: 19:28 EST, 7 July 2012 | UPDATED: 08:51 EST, 8 July 2012
- Amir Bey, 22, was seen around City Hall in Philadelphia wielding a riffle
- As he ‘opened fire at police,’ Bey was shot down and remains in critical condition
- Police say Bey has no prior convictions but appears to be mentally unstable
A 22-year-old man wielding a riffle was gunned down by police after a tense early-morning standoff in a busy area of Philadelphia.
Police believe the man, later identified as Amir Bey, could have been attempting ‘suicide by cop,’ and was described by a police commissioner as mentally unstable.
Bey allegedly began firing shots at random early Friday morning in Center City, nearby City Hall and the Masonic Temple.
Terror on the streets: A 22-year-old gunman, later identified as Amir Bey, was toting a riffle on the streets of Philadelphia early Friday morning
Rebel without a cause: Authorities speculated Bey could have been attempting ‘suicide by cops’
Suspect: Amir Bey was arrested at the scene and rushed to the hospital
According to NBC Philadelphia, Bey was walking around the temple and firing shots into cars, shattering several windscreens. He also allegedly fired a few shots into the Masonic Temple.
Authorities immediately shut down road and pedestrian traffic, as well as all SEPTA services around City Hall; the SWAT team was also alerted around 6:30am.
NBC Philadelphia reports that Bey was aimlessly pacing in front of the temple, wearing a green shirt and jeans, and carrying the riffle.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey described the tense scene to CBS Philly: ‘As SWAT was arriving, literally pulling up to the scene, the offender took a shot at police. He was in the middle of the street. Police responded and returned fire.’
It is unclear how many times Bey was shot, but authorities guess he was hit by anywhere from 10-15 bullets. He was arrested at the scene and immediately taken to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he remains in critical condition.
Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel described the gunman as mentally unstable. He says it’s possible that 22-year-old Amir Bey wanted officers to kill him.
‘Suicide-by-cop’ is a colloquial term used to describe someone who potentially wishes to kill themselves and engages in life-threatening behaviour, causing police to intervene with deadly force.
First responders: Police squads from three units responded to reports of the gunman, who was outside the Masonic Temple in Center City
Standoff: Police stand tense outside the Masonic Temple as they wait for the gunman to make a move
Taken away: This aerial shot from NBC Philadelphia shows Bey being taken away on stretcher; he was shot multiple times after he opened fire on police
Authorities encountered Bey downtown on Friday morning after receiving a report that a man was shooting at parked cars and at a window in the Masonic Temple.
Police say Bey then brandished the weapon at responding officers and fired another shot. Police returned fire.
Bey was hospitalized in critical condition after sustaining multiple bullet wounds. He has no prior criminal record. No other injuries were reported.
The area surrounding the scene of the standoff was closed for nearly seven hours as police tried to piece together information from the shooting.
Investigation: Police kept the area surrounding the Masonic Temple closed for seven hours as they tried to piece together what happened
Location, location: The shooting happened near Philadelphia’s City Hall, left; Bey was shot outside the Masonic Temple, right
It was the second police-involved shooting in the same week. During Fourth of July festivities, police shot at a teenager after they witnessed him shooting a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old in the leg, according to NBC Philadelphia.
The shot grazed the teenager’s chest, and all three were listed in stable condition.
As of July 7, there have been a total of 188 homicides in Philadelphia, up from last year’s total of 167. The city has been riddled with crime – both violent and property crimes.
According to a recent police report, there were 341 violent crimes – including homicide, rape, robbery, and assault – within the last week.
In that period, there were also 1,135 reported burglaries and thefts.