Police: Man killed during 'gun battle' with off-duty cop

Friday, March 19, 2010

Investigators say a man was killed during a 'gun battle' with an off-duty Philadelphia police officer Friday morning.

It all began at a 7-Eleven convenience store on the 5300 block of City Avenue in the Bala Cynwyd section of Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County.

Police say just before 3:00 a.m. Friday the suspect, identified as 37-year-old Kenneth DeShields of Philadelphia, was trying to hold up the store.

People who live in the neighborhood say the store is frequented by police officers, both on-duty and off. That's why it may be little surprise that an off-duty officer was at the store at the time of the robbery.

Police tell Action News the officer chased DeShields to a dormitory area at St. Joseph's Unversity, which is across the street in Philadelphia.

Witnesses then reported hearing two distinctly different gunshot sounds.

"First I heard the shots, 1,2,3, they were .45s. Then, a few seconds later, I heard shots from a smaller caliber," said witness Harry Cohen.

DeShields was hit at least twice, and fell next in a parking lot on the St. Joe's campus. Police found bullet holes in some cars in the lot.

Dozens of students woke up to see the officer and the wounded man.

"I saw students all over watching," said St. Joe's student Caitlin Cooney. "A lot of people saw it."

DeShields was taken to the hospital where he died.

The Montgomery County District Attorney's office is investigating this case, including the determination of whether this was a justified shooting by the off-duty officer.

An investigator told Action News that, even though it is early in the investigation, this does appear to be a justified shooting.

The Philadelphia Police Department says the officer involved will be on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

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