Officer Robert Wilson III of the Philadelphia Police Department’s 22nd District was making a routine security check at a GameStop in the Hope Plaza Shopping Center on 21st & Lehigh on March 5th.
As snow fell, bullets flew as the eight-year veteran of the force supposedly tried to stop an armed robbery of the very store he was checking up on. In the firefight, one of the assailants was injured, but Officer Wilson was killed in action.
Four days later, dozens surrounded that same store with flowers, candles, balloons, and a banner to honor the memory of Officer Wilson. Local pastors, church leaders, and community organizers spoke to crowds of people with words of love and caring for those the fallen officer left behind, his children. Chants of “We Care” were echoed by dozens in front of the storefront to the officer’s 1-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.
Bernard Turner, a former 22nd District officer, said that police are members of a brother and sisterhood. “We stand together. We’re here for the community, but when we fall, we definitely take care of each other,” Turner said.
Captain Robert Glenn of the 22nd District said Wilson was on the job at the time of his death, but was also buying a video game for his son’s 10th birthday, which as it turns out was the day of the vigil. Captain Glenn, who worked with Officer Wilson for eight years, also stated how valuable Wilson was to the force. “He was a volunteer for any particular crime issue we had. He was a good cop…solid. We lost a good cop last week.”
Police officials say the suspects targeted the GameStop and saw it as an easy score. Allegedly armed with handguns with the intent of robbery, the suspects opened fire on the store after being approached by Officer Wilson. According to witnesses and police, Wilson drew their fire to keep the customers and staff out of harms way. “A good friend, a good father, and unfortunately the circumstances were what they were that day,” said Captain Glenn.
According to Marla Davis-Bellamy, the director of Philadelphia Ceasefire, saving lives is something Officer Wilson did often. She recalled an instance where Wilson saved the life of one of her staff members saying, “the young man was shot multiple times. Officer Wilson actually put him in his car and drove him to Temple Hospital versus waiting on an ambulance.”