On-duty police officer ambushed in Philadelphia. How to respond?

A Philadelphia police officer was ambushed while on patrol, just days after President Obama called for a renewed national conversation about gun control.

Joseph Kaczmarek/AP
An investigator walks through the scene of a shooting Friday, in Philadelphia. A Philadelphia police officer was shot multiple times by a man who ambushed him as he sat in his marked police cruiser, authorities said.

Just days after President Obama announced his intentions to use his executive authority to curb illegal gun sales and expand background-check requirements for firearm purchases, a police officer in Philadelphia was ambushed while sitting in his marked cruiser.

The suspect was apprehended and the policeman, Officer Jessie Hartnett, is in stable condition. But Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said that the suspect’s intentions were clear.

"This guy tried to execute the police officer. The police officer had no idea he was coming,” he said at a news conference on Friday, adding that there was no apparent motive for why the officer was targeted.

Despite a spike in 2010-11, police-officer deaths have been on the decline since the 1970s, and remain at their lowest levels for the past fifty years, according to data collected from the Officer Down Memorial Page. Officer deaths related to gunfire are also down at least 17 percent.

Although highly publicized at the time as being possibly linked to a violent crime, the death of Fox Lake police officer Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz was later determined to possibly be a suicide due to the position of the found gun in relation to his body. Still, a spate of other high-profile officer ambushes over the course of 2015 prompted some towns to call for these attacks to be federally prosecuted as hate crimes.

Regarding the attack on Thursday, newly-appointed Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said that "There are just too many guns on the streets and I think our national government needs to do something about that."

Earlier this week, President Obama announced his intentions to expand background checks for gun purchases, which would also cover those purchases made online and at trade shows.

This report contains material from the Associated PRes.

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