Within the space of a few hours in West Philly yesterday, a rookie cop barely old enough to drink was shot in the face yet chased the suspect on foot for blocks, and an 18-month old boy at the playground with his Dad took two bullets meant for another man.
Officer Richard Decoatsworth, 21, was seriously wounded by a close-range shotgun blast after he approached a motorist who was driving a battered blue Buick suspiciously at 9:05 a.m. in West Philadelphia, Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson said. . . .
After he was shot on North Farson Street near Market Street, Decoatsworth, bleeding heavily from his wounds, pursued the culprit on foot while returning fire. Several blocks later, he collapsed on the 100 block of Paxon Street and radioed for assistance, Johnson said.
Squadrons of police and SWAT teams quickly responded, flooding the neighborhood — some of the officers searched on rooftops. They arrested Antonio Coulter, 20, whom neighbors had identified.
Coulter was found in a brushy alley between Paxon and 52d. Police identified him as the shooter and recovered a sawed-off shotgun hidden in the weeds about 25 feet away.
Coulter, who lives on the block where the shooting happened, was to be charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and other offenses. [INKY]
A few hours later, over at Tustin Playground at 60th and Lancaster, a Dad takes his twins to the playground.
When the mayhem stopped, one of the toddlers — identified as Mehkee Gatewood — was rushed to the hospital with two gunshot wounds, and a 31-year-old friend of the father was also shot.
Both Mehkee and the friend, Carl Wallace, were rushed to hospitals in University City after the 2:55 p.m. shooting.
Cops say an unidentified man wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans fired multiple shots with a silver handgun at Wallace – who investigators say was the intended target — after the two were seen arguing.
Recreation manager Kenneth Crawford and his staff were inside the rec center, near 60th Street and Columbia Avenue, when the shots rang out.
“This is the downfall of our community,” Crawford said yesterday near the crime scene. “Until we say something, they think they have free rein.”
Wallace was listed in critical but stable condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, police sources said.
Stray bullets struck Mehkee in the right elbow and right foot, and he was listed in stable condition at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. [DN]