Police say a Northeast Philadelphia pastor's wife shot an armed man who attacked her husband and tried to rob her family outside their home late Thursday night.
Pastor Robert Cook, his 38-year-old wife and their 12-year-old son were returning home just before 11 p.m. when a man armed with what appeared to be a rifle approached them near their front porch. Cook, a pastor at St. James Lutheran Church, and his family live next door to the church at Castor Avenue and Pratt Street.
When the man demanded the pastor's wallet, Cook said he didn't have any money, according to Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small. The pastor said he tried to wrestle the gun away from the robber who in turn fought back.
"He hit me really hard in the back of the head with the gun – swung it like a baseball bat – and then everything was like lighting for a minute," said Cook. "I heard my wife saying, 'drop the gun! drop the gun!' I was like 'she's got her gun.' He turned towards her and I said, 'Shoot him!,' Shoot him!' and she shot him."
"I needed to do enough to make him drop the gun or make him go away," said the pastor's wife who asked not to be identified.
The 66-year-old suspect was struck in the leg before fleeing down Pratt Street – dropping his Eagles cap – as Cook chased him. The suspect tossed his firearm under a car and jumped onto the driver side running boards of a passing SUV and escaped, Small said.
Shortly after, a man fitting the suspects description hobbled into Aria Health Torresdale hospital with a gunshot wound. Hospital officials notified police, who then brought the Cook family to the hospital where they positively identified the suspect, Small said.
Cook told reporters early Friday he didn't hand over his wallet initially because "in some cases the armed person will shoot the victims anyways."
Luckily, none of the Cooks required medical treatment, said police.
Cook and his wife both have permits to carry a firearm. Small said the shooting appeared "justifiable."
"When we got our guns we're like, 'we got 'em but we hope we never have to use them,'" said Cook. "But... if it comes down to my family or him, it's him, I'm sorry."
Cook, armed with his gun as he spoke to reporters, said he planned to buy his wife a new gun – an early birthday gift – since her gun was taken into evidence by police.
The shooting is under investigation. Police have not said what charges the suspect, who has not been identified, will face. It turns out his "gun" was actually a black Ramset nail gun with black electrical tape covering the orange handle so it would look like a real gun, said police.