A Philadelphia police officer experienced a miraculous stroke of luck after a bullet grazed his head and ended up getting lodged in his hat during a shooting at a Fourth of July celebration.
The 36-year-old Philadelphia Police Highway Patrol officer, later identified as 13-year veteran Sergio Diggs, was injured along with a 44-year-old Montgomery County Bomb Unit deputy in a shooting that took place around 10 p.m. during the Fourth of July Welcome America Festival headlined by singer Jason Derulo.
The gunfire erupted during the fireworks show finale, near a Ferris wheel on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Diggs was grazed in the head, while Montgomery County Deputy John Foster received a minor wound to his arm. Both officers were immediately transported to Jefferson University Hospital in stable condition and were released two hours later.
The bullet that grazed Diggs’ head was found lodged inside the officer’s cap.
“It is miraculous the fact that the round stopped in his hat. I think initially it went up the inside and hit his forehead and then the round stopped in his hat,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
A photo released by John McNesby, the president of Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, shows the bullet stuck inside the hat, along with bloodstains and a memorial card for a recently deceased police chaplain, Father Steven Wetzel.
“Father Steve has always supported and counseled our officers over the years and even now he’s still working miracles for our heroes,” McNesby marveled in a statement.
The union offered a reward of $20,000 for information leading to an arrest. By July 6, the amount had increased to $42,500 thanks to two additional contributions. Retired NYPD patrolman Joseph Vanderhoff, who was similarly shot in the line of duty through his police hat during his career, added $20,000, and ASFCME Local 676, which represents members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, donated another $2,500.
Outlaw said that it was not clear whether police were targeted or were shot by accident due to “celebratory gunfire.”
“There are too many guns on our streets and far too many individuals acting recklessly with these deadly weapons,” McNesby stated.
Videos showed hundreds of people running away from the area and a large police presence helping to evacuate the festival, which had an attendance of around 100,000 people.
As of July 6, authorities had not yet identified a suspect or made any arrests, and asked for the public’s help in finding any information about possible suspects.