Video: Gunshots erupt at NE department store, trapping patrons

One man was wounded outside the Bustleton Avenue Target on Friday. Police feared an active shooter situation.

Empty shells and red baseball caps littered the pavement outside the Bustleton Avenue Target store. TIMES PHOTOS: WILLIAM KENNY

A shooting outside a Northeast department store Friday afternoon left dozens of shoppers and workers stranded inside for anxious moments as police locked down the premises and SWAT officers searched for a gunman.

One man was injured in the gunfire, which erupted at about 3:30 p.m. in front of Target at 7400 Bustleton Ave. He was hospitalized in stable condition with a back wound.

The unidentified shooter escaped in what police described as a burgundy 2009–14 Hyundai Sonata. The four-door car was last seen traveling southbound on Bustleton.

On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of the suspected shooter. Tyrell Wright, 30, of Germantown, has been charged with attempted murder and related offenses. He surrendered to police on Friday shortly before midnight.

Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum of Northeast Detectives said the shooting grew from an argument between a group of three to five musicians and another man. The performers were outside the store promoting an upcoming concert when they exchanged hostile words with a passer-by. The passer-by fled into the store with the performers in pursuit. The passer-by then exited the store as his friend arrived in a car. When the musicians exited the store, a fistfight broke out. During the melee, Wright allegedly pulled a gun and shot seven times, wounding the passer-by’s friend once in the back.

Paramedics took the wounded man to Aria-Jefferson Health’s Torresdale campus, where he was listed in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries, Ross said. No other injuries were reported. Police did not release further information about his condition.

Brittany Strassel, her son Damon, 4, and her grandmother, Christine Terren, were shopping in the children’s clothing aisle when chaos struck.

“All of a sudden everybody’s yelling and they’re running and saying, ‘Oh my God, there’s gunshots,’ ” Strassel said. “Then the alarms go off and they say the police are coming. We waited for a while before they made any kind of move to say evacuate. Then we all went across the street to Sears.”

Patrol cops from several area districts and tactical police units converged on the scene fearing an active shooter situation.

“We didn’t know what we had (and there was) conflicting information about shots being fired inside and even the shooter running inside the store,” Police Commissioner Richard Ross said about an hour after the incident. “So we were concerned about an active shooter.

“Some people sheltered in place inside. The lion’s share we were able to escort outside and safely across the street.”

SWAT declared the building clear of danger shortly before 4:30 p.m., according to a police radio transmission.

Police did not disclose the identities or ages of anyone else involved. The wounded man was carrying a gun, but did not fire it, Ross said. He has a permit to carry the weapon.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, numerous empty shells littered the crime scene. At least three red baseball caps were lying on the ground near a gray Mitsubishi Galant with red rims. Ross did not give details on the car or the hats. Rosenbaum said that police are unaware of any significance of the garb or their color.

Investigators are also trying to identify the other men involved in the argument, Ross said, and are reviewing surveillance video from the store.

In the early stages of the investigation, police shut down several blocks of Bustleton Avenue in both directions as well as adjoining side streets.

The shooting occurred at the same spot where Ross attended a National Night Out kickoff party presented by the city’s Operation Town Watch on July 31.

“I was here for that National Night Out event. It was a very, very lively event. It’s always well-attended,” Ross said. “And obviously it’s for the expressed purpose of having peace and tranquility in our neighborhoods. And in this case, you get an individual who decides to resort to gunfire to resolve a fight. Fortunately, no one else was hurt and it wasn’t a more serious issue than we already have.” ••

William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com. Follow the Times on Twitter @NETimesOfficial.