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6 people unaccounted for in East Lansdowne, Delaware County house fire amid shooting that injured 2 officers

Home in East Lansdowne, Pa. still smoldering after fire, shooting
Home in East Lansdowne, Pa. still smoldering after fire, shooting 06:35

EAST LANSDOWNE, Pa. (CBS) -- Investigators began sifting through the wreckage of an East Lansdowne home Thursday and expect to find some remains of the home's residents — a day after a fire broke out during an active shooter situation that sent two police officers to a hospital.

Six people are unaccounted for after the fire, while the two officers shot are expected to be OK.

The officers were identified later Thursday as David Schiazza and John Meehan.

Flames were out and no smoke was rising from the home on Lewis Avenue in East Lansdowne shortly before 9 a.m. Thursday.   Chopper 3/CBS News Philadelphia

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said Thursday investigators found a human torso and a rifle inside the burning home along Lewis Avenue, near Pembroke Avenue and Baltimore Avenue. 

Smoke was still rising from the home Thursday morning but the remaining hot spots were later put out, clearing the way for investigators to begin their work.

2 officers shot, fire breaks out on Lewis Avenue in East Lansdowne

Around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, police were called to the home along Lewis Avenue, near Pembroke Avenue and Baltimore Avenue, for a report of an 11-year-old girl who was shot, Stollsteimer said.

Officers who arrived faced gunfire, and two were hit as more police arrived to escort them to safety.

Videos posted on TikTok showed officers leaning over an officer who had been shot, while gunshots can be heard in another video showing an officer taking cover behind a parked car.  

After two police officers were shot, Stollsteimer said the home was set on fire. 

The DA's office says firefighters were initially kept back from the fire for their safety, as it was still believed to be an active shooter situation.

Firefighters later extinguished the flames. Now investigators have to sift through the wreckage.

"The sad news is there may be more people inside the house who perished," Stollsteimer said. "My understanding is it was a family, a large family living in that house, and we have reason to believe that one of them started shooting."

He said the people unaccounted for include adults and children.

Updates from DA's news conference Wednesday night

Stollsteimer said gunfire has since stopped in the area after it was initially called an "active shooter situation" by emergency officials.   

Stollsteimer said it's believed the alleged shooter is one of the six to eight people unaccounted for.   

Officers from Lansdowne, East Lansdowne and Upper Darby Township responded to the home and were immediately met with gunfire, according to Stollsteimer.

One officer was shot in the leg and the other in the arm. Both officers are in stable condition at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. One of the officers works for Lansdowne Police and the other works for East Lansdowne Police. Their identities aren't known at the time, but both have more than 20 years of experience on the job, Stollsteimer said.

Stollsteimer said the two officers shot were dragged off the street by officers from Upper Darby.

Timothy M. Bernhardt, the superintendent of the Upper Darby Police Department, said officers got ballistic shields and dragged the two wounded officers away from gunfire on the street.

Delaware County DA speaks after two officers were shot in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania 06:44

Bernhardt said one officer was taken to the hospital by an Upper Darby police vehicle and the other was taken by an ambulance. 

"I just can't thank these officers and this team enough for the heroism displayed every single day by our police officers throughout the county, but particularly today," Stollsteimer said. "I can't thank Upper Darby police officers enough for what they did to drag these two gentlemen away from the gunfire. We might be having a whole different conversation about what happened."

It remains unclear if an 11-year-old was shot, Stollsteimer said, even though police were called to the scene for the report of a child struck by gunfire. 

A home on Lewis Avenue in East Lansdowne was set on fire after someone shot two police officers. Now, six to eight people are unaccounted for. 

Chopper 3 was over the scene, where flames could be seen coming from the home. It remains unclear how that fire started. The smoke from the blaze was showing up on radar and blew 5-10 mph in the south and southeast direction.

"We will get to the bottom of it, and we will continue the investigation to know if an 11-year-old was or was not shot, more importantly, who shot these police officers, and we intend to hold everyone accountable," Stollsteimer said

"We don't want another single officer hurt tonight in Delaware County," he added. 

East Lansdowne residents react to a “very alarming” scene in neighborhood 02:00

Neighbors react to a "very alarming" scene on Lewis Avenue

Residents in the area said it is normally a safe and quiet neighborhood and they were sad and angry to see the scene unfold near their homes. 

"This is a very safe area, so this is very alarming," one neighbor said.

Neighbors described a chaotic scene.

"I saw the SWAT team, they were parked up on my lawn," neighbor Derrick Richardson said. "They packed into the back of the SWAT vehicle. I think they were attempting to use the SWAT vehicle as a shield. But the fire, it got to be, it was just out of control."

Richardson captured some of the scene on TikTok - one video showed an officer rushing to the aid of another who had just been shot.

Veronica Carringdon said before the fire began, she was out delivering groceries to a friend when she heard gunfire and then saw police running toward the house with their guns out. Some who live on Lewis Avenue were told to shelter in place during the incident. 

"I just heard gunshots and seen [police] coming up with rifles. I just knew something serious was going on," Carringdon said.

One neighbor, who didn't want to be identified on camera, said she was certain the burning house was where her teenage daughter's best friend lived with her parents and two siblings. 

"I know the daughter and she's a very sweet girl and her parents, any interaction I've had with them they've been fine. They were in different activities, just normal, loving people," the neighbor said. 

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