There were several items about this story in last night’s news feed, but I didn’t want to post any commentary on it until the name of the now-deceased perpetrator was released.
I saw the first breaking news report on the incident yesterday morning, less than two hours after it happened: at about 7:30am in South Philadelphia a man driving a Black Honda deliberately ran down a pedestrian, flipping him up over the hood onto the windshield. The driver was attempting to run down others when he was stopped by a “good Samaritan” driving another vehicle. An off-duty cop heard the alert and arrived on the scene quickly. When the driver came to attack him, the officer warned him, and then had to shoot him multiple times, wounding him severely. The perpetrator died shortly afterwards; the victim he ran down was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The news reports made me suspicious. I don’t know much about the ethnography of Philadelphia except that it is less culturally enriched than New York or D.C., and largely African-American. In big cities there are sometimes late-night incidents outside nightclubs, where one angry and medicated person drives up on the sidewalk and runs down his enemies. But at 7:30am? Most of the nightclub crowd would have passed out by then…
For a good part of the day all the headlines referred to an “erratic driver”. But then the PennLive website put out a piece with the phrase “rampaging driver” in the headline. It included the detail that the black Honda had Maryland plates. There are lots of culture-enrichers in the D.C. suburbs on both sides of the river.
Still later in the day, the Philly police said they hadn’t ruled out “terrorism” as a motive.
Now all we needed was a name. It took a long time for the authorities to release the name, which is often the case when jihad is involved. Late this afternoon the driver was finally identified in this AP story:
Man Shot by Officer After Hitting Pedestrian Identified
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Police have released the name of a driver shot and killed by an off-duty Philadelphia police officer after hitting a pedestrian and struggling with the officer.
Investigators said 31-year-old Khalil Lawal of Arlington, Virginia apparently tried to hit a person who had just gotten out of a car in south Philadelphia during Monday’s morning rush hour.
Police said the man then chased another driver who had blocked him in, charged at the off-duty officer after he approached and was shot after a struggle. He died at a hospital. The officer and the man struck by the car were treated at hospitals.
Commissioner Richard Ross has said there are unanswered questions about the case, including the reason for the man’s erratic behavior and the number of shots fired by the officer.
So the perp is a “Virginian” from Arlington, which is one of the most culturally enriched cities in the country. Huge neighborhoods (e.g. Buckingham, not far from where I used to live) that were largely black and working-class white are now Muslim, with business signs in Arabic and halal bodegas everywhere. Presumably this is the milieu in which Mr. Lawal was living.
Notice that the car was from Maryland, but the driver was from Virginia. That makes me think that even now there is more to this story than meets the eye. The rest of it may get buried, or we may hear about it eventually. I’ll let you know if anything else pops up.