PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) 70-year-old retired Philadelphia Police Officer Thomas Gibbons still gets emotional listening to the 911 call from 45 1/2 years ago. He and his partner were nearly killed on the job during an ambush shooting.
"I just heard blam and when you're close to gunfire like that, mere inches a part, it's loud and it kicks like a mule," said Gibbons. It was August 30th, 1970. Gibbons and his partner were assigned to Highway Patrol.
"He was shot in the head and when he was wounded he was warning me. The guys were in a stolen car. My partner warned me to quote look out Tom."
Those haunting memories came flooding back to Gibbons when he heard Philadelphia Police Officer Jessie Hartnett was shot Thursday, also during an ambush shooting, while sitting in his police cruiser. The suspect, Edward Archer, police say is a self proclaimed Jihadi.
"I could just imagine what Officer Hartnett went through. This guy is leaning in the window and continuing to fire. Just imagine the noise inside that police car. It's frighting alone right there," said Gibbons. He also says there are several similarities between his shooting and that of Officer Hartnett. They happened blocks a part in the same neighborhood and both suspects, he says, claimed to Muslim. The officers injuries were similar too.
"My partner and I were shot with stolen police firearms from Washington D.C. Officer Hartnett is shot with a stolen police firearm. He has extensive nerve damage to his left arm. I had extensive nerve damage to my right arm."
Gibbons says Commissioner Ross instantly made the right decision to assign police to ride in pairs while the investigation continues. But he says it's not fool proof against criminals.
"These ambush type attempt execution shootings are scary and its unexpected. I'm sure these officers out there weren't expecting it. There's no hint," said Gibbons.