Eagle eye: Most Philadelphia media ignore possibility of local terrorism

You would think anytime there’s a possibility of terrorism in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia media would report it. Apparently that wasn’t the case this week.

Maybe hysteria over the Eagles in the Super Bowl is to blame.

By all reported accounts, Khalil Lawal of Arlington, Va., drove a car into a pedestrian in South Philadelphia.

It happened at about 7:30 Monday morning near Broad and Bigler streets.

Then, Lawal attacked the off-duty officer who confronted him.

I checked for the latest web articles from the city’s five TV news sites (3, 6, 10, 17 and 29), plus the newspaper’s.

According to WPVI, Tuesday afternoon,

“Investigators say Lawal apparently tried to use his black Honda hit a person who had just gotten out of a car.
“Then, on foot, Lawal chased another person who had tried to detain him, and then charged at the off-duty officer after he approached, leading to a violent struggle.
“During the struggle, the officer fired about ten shots, hitting Lawal in the torso, legs, and face.”

Lawal was killed, and the officer was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital.

Thursday morning, WCAU identified the officer as Det. James Powell, a 23-year veteran assigned to External Services and was off duty at the time.
Investigators told the station, before the shooting,

“Lawal continued driving east on Bigler before making a U-turn and returning toward the intersection of Broad and Bigler near Marconi Plaza. … A Good Samaritan used his truck to block his path. … Lawal then allegedly chased the Good Samaritan on foot before walking back to his Honda.”

Wednesday night, WTXF reported at least three video cameras recorded the incident which WCAU reported police “have no plan to release.”

WCAU also said, “Police don’t believe the incident was a case of domestic terrorism.”

However, Monday, England’s Daily Express reported,

“A police spokesman confirmed this afternoon terror was being considered as motivation.
“He said: ‘Anytime someone is trying to run people over we got to look at that angle and see what the investigation leads us.'”

That, and the line from WCAU, were the only mentions I could find of possible terrorism.

Note just yesterday, Edward Archer was convicted of shooting police officer Jesse Hartnett in an ambush, two years ago. Archer had pledged his allegiance to ISIS and said he had acted out of religious inspiration. So terrorism on a local level has been in the news this week, but in a different story.

However, in this week’s case, WTXF reported,

“The detective fired several shots, knocking the man to the ground and then continued firing — striking the man 13 times in all.”

That had Police Commissioner Richard Ross (left) concerned.

Tuesday, the Inquirer reported “Ross said he had reviewed surveillance video of the shooting and had ‘some concerns’ about ‘whether all the shots were necessary.'”

New district attorney Larry Krasner (right) promised WTXF “an even-handed review of” the shooting.

The Inky reported Powell will be assigned to administrative duties while Internal Affairs investigates the shooting.

The Philadelphia Police website has nothing on the shooting, including a press release. It hasn’t yet made the list of officer-involved shootings.

There’s also nothing on its Facebook page. And the only thing I could find from the department on Twitter was this:

From what I could tell, this story that made international headlines and possibly involved terrorism deserved more news coverage than it got locally: one station reporting police didn’t think it was.

At least there are things on the department’s Facebook page everyone in the area can agree on. Come to think of it, maybe it’s the reason we haven’t heard more about the shooting.

Every media organization sent crews to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis.

Those journalists, no matter how good they are, couldn’t be in two places at once. And the police department is planning for fans celebrating the Eagles victory over the New England Patriots — or that other possibility.

About the author

The journalism “business” has changed — from standards to platforms to layoffs — along with the American public, and I’ve managed to survive somewhat on my own terms.

I started in 1994, becoming an award-winning and respected TV newscast producer.

Even better was creatively producing websites and social media, and serving as a station's digital media manager — writing news, creating graphics and getting evidence of growing my audience here in the nation's fourth largest market, Philadelphia.

I also taught first grade for eight years. My principal saw my class website and made me electronic gradebook manager to assist co-workers when we stopped using paper gradebooks.

In 2018, I took courses and earned the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.

In 2019, I was a freelance newspaper reporter, but enjoyed copy editing and reviving the publication’s social media even more.

That got me striking out on my own with a local news website to join the blog I created, designed and write.

Ask me about all the details.

I did drive Uber to make ends meet until I started as a customer service representative at one of the world’s largest web-hosting companies, with more than 8 million customer contracts and hosting more than 12 million domains.

With classroom and newsroom experience, I know how to prioritize, analyze and take the best course of action. Getting results means attention to detail, following through and following up.

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