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Alleged Philly cop shooter Maurice Hill worked at Chuck E. Cheese and has a new baby, but also a decades-long history of violence

Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

PHILADELPHIA -- To associates in the drug world, he was known by the nickname "Gruff." Police have known him as the leader of a crack cocaine trafficking organization based around Southwest Philadelphia's Paschall Village projects for more than a decade.

And two days before he allegedly opened fire on police from a second-floor window in Tioga, Maurice Hill and his girlfriend had a baby daughter.

Those details, gleaned from interviews with family members, law enforcement sources, and court records detailing Hill's extensive criminal past, began to fill in the background of the man suspected of shooting six police officers and keeping authorities -- and an entire city -- on edge during a 71/2-hour standoff Wednesday.

A day later, the 36-year-old remained in police custody as federal and local authorities discussed who would lead the case against him and what charges he might face.

But as he held out until nearly midnight Thursday before surrendering, authorities said, his thoughts were overwhelmed by two overriding concerns.

District Attorney Larry Krasner, who helped negotiate Hill's surrender, said the man was desperate to "end the situation without being killed."

 

But Police Commissioner Richard Ross said: "This man was not going to go back to prison. He made that clear."

Public records show that Hill has been arrested about a dozen times since turning 18, and convicted six times on charges that involved illegal possession of guns, drug dealing, and aggravated assault. He has been in and out of prison; the longest sentence handed him came in 2010, when a federal judge gave him a 55-month term.

But in recent years, said his older sister Chanell White, he had been attempting to turn his life around. He was working at a warehouse and occasionally attended a mosque at 67th Street and Woodland Avenue, where Southwest Philadelphia residents reported seeing him with his ex-wife and son, now 16.

"What he has been doing recently, (police) don't know," White said. "They are going to go off stuff he did eight, 10, 13 years ago."

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