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Two Philadelphia-area law enforcement officers were injured in a shooting that took place as tens of thousands of people celebrated July Fourth by congregating for fireworks and live music Monday, authorities said.
Police confirmed to NBC Philadelphia that two officers were stabilized at a hospital after being struck by gunfire near throngs who gathered at and near the city's famed Museum of Art.
At an overnight news conference, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said both have been treated and released. One was described as a traffic officer for the city department; the other was a member of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Bomb and Hazardous Device Disposal Unit assigned to the Philadelphia department.
Both were working security during the festivities, she said, and had not heard gunfire when they were struck, the commissioner said. One man is 36 years old, and the other is 44.
It's not clear why pandemonium ensued if gunfire was not heard, although NBC Philadelphia did indicate that police shooed crowds away from the concert stage.
The root of the gunfire was still a mystery, Outlaw said, noting that possibilities including everything from someone taking a shot from afar to ricochet from celebratory gunfire.
One of the officers suffered a graze wound to his head, the other a gunshot would to his right shoulder, the Philadelphia station reported. It broadcast a photograph of a bullet lodged in an officer's cap that included a memorial card for a late police chaplain.
The gunfire was reported in the Fairmount Street-Art Museum area as people were in the area for multiple events, including the last day of the holiday weekend's free 2022 Wawa Welcome America Concert featuring Jason Derulo.
Music had ended and fireworks had begun when the gunfire happened shortly before 10 p.m., reported NBC Philadelphia, which had a reporter at the center of the chaos near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Stage.
Witnesses said the situation resulted in pandemonium as spectators streamed from the neighborhood. The station reported that a SWAT team at a high-rise residential building near the museum was responding to a person with a gun who ended up being unrelated to the violence.
It did not appear that anyone was in custody.
No civilian injuries were reported. A child may have gone missing among the confusion, the station reported.
Mayor Jim Kenney said during the news conference that he was tired enough of gun violence that he does not want to be mayor anymore. He said high-profile events in his city are no longer reasons for celebration, but rather preludes to heartache.
"I don’t enjoy the Fourth of July," he said.
Alex Dzomba, 28, was celebrating a few blocks away at a friend's high-rise residence when she saw the tidal wave of humanity spilling from the concert grounds adjacent to Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Possibly because fireworks were also sounding off, Dzomba said, she didn't hear gunfire.
"All I saw was people screaming and fleeing the parkway," she said.
Police urged people to stay away from the Fairmount-Art Museum area. A reunion location was set up at the Free Library of Philadelphia, police said.
After two pandemic years of mostly staying in for a holiday with roots in the city, Philadelphians were looking forward to celebrating July Fourth outdoors.
In suburban Chicago on Monday a suspect opened fire from a rooftop, killing six and injuring 38 others who were spectators and participants in a July Fourth parade in the city of Highland Park, authorities said.
CORRECTION (July 5, 2022, 8:56 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated that both law enforcement officers struck by gunfire are with the Philadelphia Police Department, based on initial information from authorities. One is a highway patrol officer with the department; the other is a Montgomery County sheriffs’ deputy. Both were part of the security detail for the festival.