PHILADELPHIA — Three court officers were shot, one fatally, early Friday while they were trying to serve a warrant on a man for failing to appear at trial, police said. The man who was being sought also was shot and wounded.
The gunfire started after a woman opened the apartment door and the three officers identified themselves and entered, Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said. Further details on the circumstances were not immediately released.
The officers, who work for the city court system, were serving a bench warrant for Darien Houser, 40, who had failed to appear at his trial on a charge of raping a 13-year-old girl. He was acquitted in absentia last November, but a judge issued a bench warrant on a contempt of court charge.
Court officers generally are armed, but police did not say if all three officers had weapons at the scene.
"It's a dangerous job when you go out there and try to apprehend people that have committed crimes, especially violent crimes," Johnson said.
The officer killed, Joseph LeClaire, 50, was a supervisor who died from wounds in his head and stomach. The second officer was shot in the stomach, and the third officer was shot in the hand. Both were in stable condition at hospitals, broadcast reports said.
Houser was shot in the leg and back. He tried to flee, but was captured a short time later and taken to a hospital. He was in stable condition late Friday morning.