PHILADELPHIA — A man who wounded a Philadelphia police officer in a patrol car, emptying his gun and even reaching through the car window to shoot the officer, told investigators that he did it in the name of Islam and the Islamic State, police officials said Friday.
Using a stolen police handgun, the man fired at least 11 times late Thursday night, striking Officer Jesse Hartnett three times in the left arm, said Richard Ross Jr., the city’s police commissioner. Though badly wounded, Officer Hartnett, 33, chased his attacker and returned fire, striking him in the buttocks.
Arrested minutes later, Edward Archer, 30, “has confessed to committing this cowardly act in the name of Islam,” Commissioner Ross said at a news conference. “According to him, the police defend laws that he believes are contrary to Islam.”
Capt. James Clark, commander of the Police Department’s homicide division, quoted Mr. Archer as telling investigators: “I follow Allah and I pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. That is the reason why I did what I did.”
Dramatic images of the shooting, taken by a security video camera, swept across the national media, showing a gunman wearing a long robe — the kind of loose outer garment, known as a thobe or dishdasha, often worn by Muslim men — running toward the patrol car and firing, until finally he was reaching into the window. Then he ran away, firing at least once more as he fled.
Officials said that while the video left little question about what happened, there was some doubt as to why. Mr. Archer’s mother, Valerie Holliday, said he had serious psychological problems. But officials said they did not know if that was true. Beyond repeating his allegiance to Islam, Captain Clark said, “he wouldn’t give us anything more than that.”
Officials said they did not know whether Mr. Archer had any contact with radicals or terrorist groups, or whether he had been influenced by such groups from afar and become “self-radicalized.”
In talking with investigators, the man appeared “savvy enough to stop short of implicating himself in a conspiracy, if there was one,” Commissioner Ross said. “He doesn’t appear to be a stupid individual, just an extremely violent one.”
“He certainly was targeting police,” he said. “He was trying to assassinate this police officer.”
In the wake of the massacres in San Bernardino, Calif., in December and in Paris in November, the Philadelphia shooting and its video images stoked fears of a continuing trend of young people inspired to violence by radical groups. That prompted Mayor Jim Kenney, standing with the commissioner at the news conference, to say, “In no way, shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam have anything to do with what you’ve seen on this screen.”
Mr. Archer has recently lived at addresses in West Philadelphia and in Yeadon, Pa., a small suburban town nearby, and the police and F.B.I. were searching those locations Friday. Court records show he was found guilty in November of several charges, including fraud and forgery, and was awaiting sentencing. Last year, he was sentenced to nine to 23 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of carrying an unlicensed gun and assault.
Ms. Holliday told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Mr. Archer, the oldest of seven siblings, had suffered head injuries and had been hearing voices, and laughing and muttering to himself.
Natalie King, 68, who lives across the street from Mr. Archer’s Yeadon residence, said that she considered mental illness a more likely explanation than religious extremism. “He wasn’t what you would call radicalized or nothing like that,” she said.
Mayor Rohan Hepkins of Yeadon said, “To think that we have been harboring not just a criminal but a potential terrorist, it just shows that this can happen anywhere in the United States.”
The gun used to shoot Officer Hartnett, which was recovered at the scene, was a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol taken from an officer’s home in October 2013, Commissioner Ross said. He said that it was reported stolen at the time, and that the officer it was issued to had been disciplined.
“How many hands it may have passed through in the last couple of years, we have no way of knowing,” he added.
The gun battle took place at about 11:41 p.m. Thursday in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood, a low-income area on Philadelphia’s western edge. The officer, patrolling alone on low-rise residential streets, reached 60th and Spruce Streets, an intersection with a few small shops and a restaurant.
Officer Hartnett, who has been on the force for five years and previously served as an officer with another department, suffered a broken bone and serious nerve damage in his arm, and “he lost a significant amount of blood at that scene,” the commissioner said.
After the officer fired back at the gunman, he radioed for help, yelling: “I’m shot! I’m bleeding heavily!”
The intersection is only about a quarter-mile from where, in 1985, the Philadelphia police, trying to end an armed standoff with the black liberation group MOVE, dropped explosives on a house, starting a fire that killed 11 people and destroyed dozens of homes.
The shooting Thursday resembled the December 2014 ambush of two New York City officers as they sat in a patrol car in Brooklyn. In that case, Ismaaiyl Brinsley fatally shot Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, then killed himself.