NJ Man Arrested in Airport Parking Garage Shooting That Killed One Philadelphia Officer, Wounded 2nd

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
October 17, 2023US News
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NJ Man Arrested in Airport Parking Garage Shooting That Killed One Philadelphia Officer, Wounded 2nd
Police cars and officers around a Philadelphia International Airport parking garage in Philadelphia on Oct. 12, 2023. (WPVI-TV via AP)

PHILADELPHIA—One man has been arrested and at least two other people are being sought in an airport parking garage shooting that killed a Philadelphia police officer and injured another last week, authorities said on Monday.

Yobranny Martinez Fernandez, 18, of Camden County, New Jersey, was arrested before dawn Monday in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and was being held in that state on a fugitive warrant.

Authorities said Officers Richard Mendez and Raul Ortiz had just arrived at work around 11 p.m. last Thursday when they heard breaking glass and saw several people breaking into a car in the parking lot at Philadelphia International Airport. A confrontation ensued, and the two officers and one of the suspects were shot.

Mr. Mendez, 50, who had been on the force for more than two decades, was shot four times and pronounced dead at a hospital. Officials said the slain officer’s handcuffs were placed on the suspect at the time of his arrest. Mr. Ortiz, a 20-year veteran of the force, was shot once in the arm and was released from the hospital Saturday.

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Police officer Richard Mendez in a file photo. (Police Department Office of Public Affairs via AP)

Authorities said the suspects fled in an SUV reported stolen a week ago that was later seen at a hospital dropping off 18-year-old Jesus Herman Madera Duran, who authorities said was believed to be involved in the confrontation with the officers. Mr. Duran had been shot in the chest, abdomen, and left arm and was pronounced dead around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

Police believe Mr. Duran had at least three accomplices and believe one of them “was responsible for firing the firearm that shot all three of these individuals,” First Deputy Commissioner Frank Vanore said at a news conference Monday.

Mr. Vanore also said police haven’t determined whether that individual is Fernandez or one of the others being sought.

“We believe that both Ortiz and Mendez attempted to apprehend at least one of the individuals. We think, by the evidence, someone came behind [Mr. Mendez] and fired a weapon,” he said, adding that it was possible Duran was hit by the shots aimed at the officer.

Mr. Mendez’s gun has not been recovered but officials said they do not believe it was fired.

Officials reiterated that a reward now totaling $237,400 was being offered for information leading to an arrest but declined to say whether it played a role in Mr. Fernandez’s arrest. The award swelled after the $30,000 posted by two local police unions was supplemented by money from other police groups, businesses, and Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents. That was in addition to $20,000 offered by the city for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

Council member Quetcy Lozada, a friend of the Mendez family, read a statement in which the family thanked everyone for their support but asked for privacy. Mr. Mendez, they said, was “a great man who was loved by many” and for whom family was “his number-one priority.” He had a master’s degree and planned to become a college professor after retiring, they said.

Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford noted last week that the shooting came only a week after three officers were shot and wounded while responding to a call and called the new shooting “a numb, numb moment for us.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mr. Fernandez had an attorney; a spokesperson for the Defender Association of Philadelphia said he didn’t know whether the office was representing the defendant but wouldn’t comment at this point.

By Ron Todt

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