Hyram Hill, the son of a Philadelphia police officer who was shot in North Philadelphia early Monday, may have been followed from a nearby business where he worked as a bouncer, police said Tuesday, adding that detectives are investigating the possibility that the killing was a targeted attack.
Hill, 23, was carrying a legally registered weapon when he was shot nine times around 4:40 a.m., police said. Hill drew his gun when he was approached by two men as he got out of his car outside a store at Broad Street and Allegheny Avenue, homicides captain Jason Smith said.
As detectives chased the two killers and the tip reward money was set at $30.00, the victim’s mother, Philadelphia police officer Edwenna Ferguson, a 17-year veteran, sadly noted that her career had not exempted her from the agony of mounting the city. Gun violence.
“I wear the faces of many parents in the city,” Ferguson said Tuesday, surrounded by family and friends at a press conference at the offices of the police union, Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of the police.
“There’s nothing I can say bad about that boy. When they get older, they do things you don’t agree with. But I was proud of everything my son did,” she said. “Every move he made, I told him you take 10 steps, I’m going to take 50 for you.”
Ferguson noted that giving birth to him at age 15 gave him direction in his life. She said she was far away in the Poconos when she learned her son had been shot. “I couldn’t be with my baby” in her final moments, she said.
Smith, the homicide captain, said police have yet to determine the motive for the murder.
“It could be theft, but it could also be a targeted attack,” Smith said. “I can’t explain why we believe that.”
Detectives believe the killer searched Hill’s pockets and took his pistol, an FN Five-seveN, Smith said.
Hill’s attack not only underscores the gun homicide crisis plaguing parts of the city, but also an increase in the number of stolen guns, which some say is helping to fuel homicides.
The number of guns stolen in the city hit a new high in 2021, when 1,388 guns were stolen, The Inquirer reported in December. This is 11% more than in 2020, 38% more than in 2019 and the highest tally since 2011 the first year figures were available.
Police found a bullet from Hill’s gun at the scene. The condition of the bullet leads them to believe he may have pulled out his gun and rammed it, ejecting that bullet from the gun without firing it, Smith said. They also recovered seven casings fired from a 9mm handgun used by one of the assailants.
Ferguson lamented the decision too many young people are making to pick up guns and commit violent crimes just to make “a name for themselves.”
His son graduated from West Catholic High School, where he played on the football team and once dreamed of being a professional football player, Ferguson said.
Two semesters before earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cheyney, Hall had worked full-time for Vision Quest, mentoring troubled teens in New Castle, Del., she said. She described her son as ambitious and family-oriented.
Hill’s close friend Shaka Toney, who was drafted in 2021 by the Washington football team, attended Tuesday’s press conference.
Ferguson pointed out that his son does not have a criminal record. She said he was set to become a father with his girlfriend in two months to a daughter they were planning to name Hyrah.
She called for peace and asked members of the public to “stand down” and let the police do the work of finding the gunmen. “I work for a team of the best homicide detectives here in the city of Philadelphia. They are the best in the world,” she said.
Hill was the 38th person killed in Philadelphia this year, down from 36 this time last year, the deadliest year in the city’s history with 562 homicides, according to the police department’s website.
The two men who converged on Hill were wearing masks and may have fled in a Chevy Malibu, Smith said. Detectives hope the video evidence will help them determine if he was followed from his workplace.
“We don’t have much direction in this case,” he said. “Not yet.”
On Tuesday, the FOP announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect. The city, as with the homicides, is offering $20,000.
“Anyone has information on this case that may lead to an arrest in the Hyram Hill homicide,” FOP President John McNesby said. “Enough in Philadelphia. We have too many guns and violent offenders on our streets.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the police at 215-686-TIPS or the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334.