PHILADELPHIA - A SEPTA Transit Officer who was shot during a firefight with a suspect in Frankford last week was released from the hospital on Friday.
Investigators say Officer Ervis Onuzi, 28, was shot in the abdomen when a gunman who fled a triple shooting near Arrott Transportation Center barricaded himself inside an apartment building and opened fire on responding officers.
Officer Onuzi was wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair, per protocol, but he stood up and walked to a waiting SEPTA Police SUV. SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel joked with reporters that Officer Onunzi was "very annoyed" that he had to use a wheelchair because he wanted to walk down from the 9th floor.
Onuzi gave brief waves to family and police officers that gathered outside the hospital. Nestel prepared him for the media scrum, but Onuzi told his boss "I just want to get in the car, I didn't do anything out of the ordinary."
According to authorities, on April 6 officers from the Philadelphia Police Department responded to the 4700 block of Penn Street after hearing 8-9 gunshots.
The gunshots stemmed from a physical altercation between the suspect, 18-year-old Zyhiem Hartman, and another man, police said. It's believed that Hartman fired at the man, striking him once in the neck, while he was walking away. Two women, ages 52 and 42, were hit in the lower body by apparent stray gunfire.
Police spotted Hartman in a black hooded sweatshirt running down the 1600 block of Arrott Street and gave chase, police said. Officer and witnesses saw Hartman run into a property on the 4700 block of Arrott Street.
Police said Hartman briefly exited the building without his black hooded sweatshirt on, but slammed the door when he saw officers. Police declared a barricade and soon after heard gunshots from an upper floor.
Police requested for long-gun trained officers and SEPTA Police Officer Ervis Onuzi responded to the scene, according to investigators. Officer Onuzi was shot in the abdomen while attempting to take cover behind a patrol vehicle, police said.
"He was the pillar of courage and valor and we watch the video now and hear his words from the body camera , what he did that day was truly heroic and was done to save the lives of other police officers," Nestle said.
Nestel said video and audio from Onuzi's body camera shows him announce covering fire for officers who were pinned down by the gunman. Onuzi is expected to make a full recovery, but Nestel described his gunshot wound as serious which requires a long road to recovery.
"He's had a struggle, the last 8-9 days have been tough, yesterday he had another surgery and after that it was as if he was a new person," Nestel said.
Police Sargent Eric Gripp told reporters that authorities used technology to determine that Hartman was down near a second floor window. Police initially thought he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, but a medical examiner later determined that he was shot by police.
The two women injured in the initial shooting were taken to the hospital in stable condition, police said. The man who was struck in the neck was taken to Jefferson-Torresdale and intubated.
Investigators said Hartman was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic ghost gun. Sources told FOX 29 that he was known to police prior to the shootout.
Nestel said he and Officer Onuzi had a long discussion about his future as a police officer, and he expects him to rejoin the force in time.
"Officer Onuzi is not done with policing, he'll be back."