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6 to 8 family members missing, feared dead, in Delaware County house fire after 2 officers shot [Video]

The missing family members range in age from children to adults

Police keep an eye on the doors and windows of the burning house Wednesday on Lewis Road in East Lansdowne, where two officers were shot before the house caught fire. (PETE BANNAN- DAILY TIMES)
Police keep an eye on the doors and windows of the burning house Wednesday on Lewis Road in East Lansdowne, where two officers were shot before the house caught fire. (PETE BANNAN- DAILY TIMES)
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Authorities said Wednesday night that six to eight members of one family are unaccounted for after a house in East Lansdowne burned down following two policemen getting shot by someone firing from inside.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said authorities are concerned there are six to eight family members unaccounted for, ranging from children to adults.

He said the crime scene is locked down. The fire is smoldering at this point.

“We know (there were) six to eight people living in that house. It is our terrible fear that they may be in that house that burned,” Stolleteimer said.

The county Criminal Investigations Division will move into the building at some point and look for evidence and bodies.

Earlier, two police officers were shot about 3:45 p.m. while responding to a call for an 11-year-old shot inside the house in the first block of Lewis Avenue.

Both officers were reportedly taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital. There there was no immediate word on their conditions. Borough police said one officer suffered an arm wound and another a leg wound.

Neighbors estimated 40 to 50 shots were fired from the house, which within a few minutes started on fire.

Stollsteimer said the injuries were not life threatening. He visited the officers, whose names were not yet available.  One works for the East Lansdowne department, the other for Lansdowne.

The DA said that officers were responding to a call for a child shot in the house. The police radio traffic from scene said it was an 11-year-old girl.

Police radio traffic showed that borough officers received a call about 3:40 p.m. for a subject with a gun inside the house and that there was open line with gunfire heard in the background.

Radio traffic about 3:45 p.m. indicated a gunman holed up in the house and responding officers were quickly under gunfire. Shots were reportedly coming from inside.

At some point, officers approached the house in the first block of Lewis Avenue in East Lansdowne during the standoff Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (PETE BANNAN -DAILY TIMES)

Patrick Adams, who lives on the 100 block of Penn Boulevard, behind Lewis, said he heard shooting in his backyard. It was about 40 to 50 shots, and they seemed to be coming from different directions.

Numerous police then arrived on the scene.

Officers were trying to evacuate the wounded comrades while coming under gunfire. Police assumed positions around the house.

Police manpower continued to pour into the scene at 4 p.m. About that time, smoke was seen coming from the house.

Fire crews were called but did not approach the scene for obvious reasons. The upper part of the house was engulfed in flames within 10 minutes.

The scene on Lewis Avenue in East Lansdowne on Wednesday afternoon. (PETE BANNAN- DAILY TIMES)

A helicopter was called to the scene, along with a SWAT-type team. It was not clear whether gunfire was still coming from the house as the house burned, but no officers were reporting incoming gunfire at the scene.

Police and firefighters at the scene Wednesday in east Lansdowne. (PETE BANNAN -DAILY TIMES)
Police and firefighters at the scene Wednesday in East Lansdowne. (PETE BANNAN -DAILY TIMES)

Firefighters were eventually allowed back to the house to extinguish the flames.

In the neighborhood

Residents lined the first block of Penn Boulevard, the street behind the home, videoing the scene as every few minutes another police officer would arrive and don a bulletproof vest, helmet and other gear before reporting to the scene.

Neighbor Phillip Jones realized something was going on and went out back to see the scene unfolding.

“I heard popping. I don’t know if it was the fire or gunshots,” Jones said.

At that point an officer behind the blazing home ordered him inside.

A column of smoke rose hundreds of feet into the sky as the late afternoon sun lit the street. Plants could be seen on the second floor back bedroom of the home ablaze and then a window air conditioner fell out of the blazing third-floor window.

Firefighters stood by at the end of the block waiting for the OK to move in.

By 5 p.m. the fire had burned away the third and much of the second floors of the home. Firefighters began spraying water on the blaze and to extinguish flames, which had begun to burn at the next door home.

By evening, the blaze appeared to have been all but extinguished, with smoke still rising from the wreckage as firefighters worked the scene. The side of a neighboring home was also charred.

At Faith Emmanuel Lutheran Church just behind the home, staff was preparing for about 100 people who come to the food pantry on Wednesday at 4 as well as preparing the 45 children in child care for pickup.

The Rev. Dr. Moses Suah-Dennis said staff heard the shooting and saw police arrive on the scene. They brought everyone inside and were locked down for about an hour. They then walked the children up to Faith Vision Academy to be reunited with parents.

“We practice for this, but today it was a reality,” he said.

The church also sheltered two elderly residents from one of the homes near the fire building.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story)

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