"When you go out to investigate a domestic violence dispute, you never know what's going to happen," the prosecutor said. "It can become volatile."
Particularly, he added, if someone is "crazy and has a gun."
Thursday's shooting ruptured the morning quiet of their neighborhood, Hobart Avenue residents said.
Bocchini said that McNeil broke into his ex-girlfriend's home sometime before 2 a.m. and punched and kicked her: "He stabbed and killed the victim's three-week-old puppy."
Officers responded around 2:30 a.m. and took her to the police station.
McNeil, who was released from state prison May 25 after serving time for a 2010 armed robbery, fled, Bocchini said.
Detective Edgar Rios, a 30-year veteran, and Detective James Letts, a 15-year veteran, escorted the victim back home at 8:43 a.m.
The officers insisted that she remain in their car while they ensured she could return safely. But no sooner did they get out of their vehicle than they came under fire. They yelled to the victim to run, which possibly saved her life, relatives and neighbors said.
"They saw [McNeil] but he fired before they had a chance to return fire," Bocchini said.
Letts was hit in the right shoulder and abdomen. He underwent surgery at Capital Health Regional Medical Center and is expected to be released in a few days, Bocchini said.
Rios was hit twice and "two bullets penetrated him, injuring several internal organs," Bocchini said. Rios was in critical but stable condition.
A woman who declined to give her name but said she was McNeil's former girlfriend's aunt said McNeil, who lived on nearby Garfield Street, and the young woman had been going out for about a month. He had started beating her in recent days, the aunt said.
Another woman who also would not give her name said Rios was known in the neighborhood as a highly professional and caring detective who treated people with respect.
Copyright 2013 - The Philadelphia Inquirer
McClatchy-Tribune News Service