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Hundreds of Looters Ransack Philadelphia Businesses in Second Night of Unrest

Police officers guard a pick-up truck loaded with looted merchandise following riots following the police shooting of Walter Wallace in Philadelphia, Pa., October 27, 2020. (David 'Dee' Delgado/Reuters)

A second night of unrest rocked Philadelphia on Tuesday as hundreds of looters burglarized stores during rioting in response to the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr, a black man who was wielding a knife.

Police shot and killed 27-year-old Wallace in Cobbs Creek on Monday. Wallace had a knife when he walked toward officers and ignored orders to drop his weapon, police said. 

Video of the incident appears to show Wallace approaching officers while his mother attempted to restrain him. The camera briefly points downward and the sounds of several gunshots ring out as police open fire. Wallace is then shown lying still on the ground while his mother, who is screaming hysterically, runs to him. 

Rioters on Monday injured 30 officers, Philadelphia police said. The first night of unrest saw 76 people arrested for burglary including three with guns, while 11 were arrested for assaulting police officers, and three were arrested for failure to disperse.

On Tuesday, roughly 500 people had gathered at a West Philadelphia park for a peaceful protest. However, that same night, looters ransacked Aramingo Avenue in the city’s Port Richmond section, stealing from a number of stores including a Foot Locker, Burlington, Target and Dollar General, according to 6abc Philadelphia

At least two police officers were hospitalized for injuries after being hit by rocks on Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania National Guard said, at the instruction of Governor Tom Wolf and PEMA, it is sending several hundred members “in support of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management and assist Philadelphia police in protecting life, property and the right to peacefully assemble and protest.”

According to 6abc, Wallace was an aspiring rapper whose music was often about guns and shooting people, including police. Wallace had been awaiting trial for allegedly threatening to shoot a woman and her house, according to court records. 

A judge had ordered Wallace to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and treatment in 2013, the same year he pled guilty to assault and resisting arrest after punching a police officer in the face.

Wallace’s parents said Tuesday night that officers knew their son was struggling with his mental health as they had been called to the family’s house three times on Monday. 

Wallace family attorney Shaka Johnson said that while Wallace’s brother had called 911 to request medical assistance and an ambulance, Philadelphia police officers arrived, and they are not properly trained to handle mental health issues.

“When you come to a scene where somebody is in a mental crisis, and the only tool you have to deal with it is a gun… where are the proper tools for the job?” Johnson said.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that it was unclear what the responding officers knew about Wallace. Both officers were wearing body cameras and were taken off street duty pending the investigation, which is still ongoing. 

The department is completing a threat assessment on whether to release the names of the officers involved. Outlaw said the names would be released as long as that does not put the officers’ safety at risk.

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