Home » Gun used in shooting of Philadelphia-area officer also used in drive-by hours earlier, authorities say

Gun used in shooting of Philadelphia-area officer also used in drive-by hours earlier, authorities say

by John Jefferson
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  • The gun brandished by Torraize Armstrong on Saturday during a deadly confrontation with police was reportedly used in a drive-by shooting earlier that day.
  • Armstrong, 40, was fatally shot after wounding Chester Police Detective Steve Byrne.
  • Byrne, who survived, “has become a hero for all of the people in the city of Chester by stopping a very dangerous human being,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said.

Authorities say a gun used to wound a police detective following a chase in southeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday had been used to wound another person in a drive-by shooting earlier in the day.

Delaware County prosecutors and Chester police said Monday the gun belonged to 40-year-old Torraize Armstrong, who was shot and killed Saturday afternoon by return fire from wounded Chester Police Detective Steve Byrne and three other officers.

Byrne, hit once during the exchange of gunfire, was hospitalized but was discharged Monday and was recuperating at home with his family, officials said. District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said he “has become a hero for all of the people in the city of Chester by stopping a very dangerous human being.”

PENNSYLVANIA AUTHORITIES IDENTIFY POLICE OFFICER WOUNDED IN FATAL GUNFIRE EXCHANGE

He noted that Byrne was the third police officer wounded by gunfire in the county in about a week and a half.

Stollsteimer said officials had identified Armstrong as a suspect in an 11:30 a.m. Saturday drive-by shooting in Chester because the gunfire came from a black car registered to Armstrong. The car was spotted Saturday afternoon, and it was pursued from Chester into Upland and back into Chester, where it blew a tire and Armstrong emerged, officials said.

Armstrong “literally began firing the moment he got out of the vehicle,” using a 9 mm semi-automatic weapon to fire at officers, wounding Byrne, Stollsteimer said. Byrne returned fire as did two Upland officers and a Chester Township officer.

Armstrong, hit several times, died Saturday evening at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. An initial ballistics examination identified as Armstrong’s gun as the same weapon used in the earlier drive-by shooting, Stollsteimer said.

“The officers returned fire both to save their lives — as you know, Detective Byrne was actually shot by him — but also to protect people in the community,” Stollsteimer said.

Steven Gretsky, Chester’s police commissioner, said Byrne has 16 years with the department and is one of its senior detectives. He was actually scheduled to be off Saturday but was called in as the lead investigator on the drive-by shooting, Gretsky said.

Stollsteimer’s office is handling the investigation and said while more work needs to be done, “all of the officers who discharged their weapons were completely justified in doing so.”

On Feb. 7, two police officers in another part of the county were wounded by gunfire at a home in East Lansdowne that then burned down, with six sets of human remains later recovered from the ashes. Stollsteimer blamed the violence on what he called “a culture of affinity for weapons” that is destroying communities.

“We have too many people with guns who shouldn’t have those guns,” he said, noting that on the day of the East Lansdowne violence authorities were announcing first-degree murder charges against a 15-year-old boy in the killing of another 15-year-old boy with a “ghost gun,” a privately-made firearm lacking serial numbers and largely untraceable.

“There is no way in this rational world that a 15-year-old boy should get his hand on a junk gun that only exists so that criminals can go out and commit crimes without there being a serial number to trace that back to,” he said.

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