Lt. Robert Friel had just finished his shift in South Philadelphia when he saw trouble in the parking lot of the CVS store near Passyunk Avenue. A fellow officer was confronting a man who had been reported by his wife that had sped away from their home on Cross Street in his gray Acura, she said. He had battled substance abuse issues and was threatening to kill himself. He left with three guns that belong to his son, a Navy veteran, two handguns and a high powered assault rifle.
Friel stopped to help, then had to fight for his life. Inside the store, he and another officer wrestled with Richard Kralle, a local bodybuilder suspected of having ties to a biker club. Kralle then fired two shots: one from his 9mm, and another after grabbing an officer’s gun.
Friel was struck in a leg before Kralle was wrestled to the ground.
As authorities stood Friday morning outside Thomas Jefferson University Hospital — where Friel, 48, was in stable condition before surgery — they said they were grateful the encounter did not end in tragedy.
Friel has been on the force for nearly 30 years, and was newly promoted as a lieutenant, assigned to the Third District in South Philadelphia, just blocks from the CVS.
His family has already lost someone in the line of duty: In 1994, Friel’s older brother Joseph was killed at age 25 when a drunk driver struck his cruiser in Roxborough.
Police believed Kralle had ties to a biker club with members in South Philadelphia, law enforcement sources said. Biker-news.com has learned from other sources that it might be Pagans MC. He was sentenced to a year in prison in 2001 for carrying a firearm without a license and he has past convictions for assault and DUI.
On his Facebook page, Kralle describes himself as self-employed and a “100 clean and sober gym rat.”
His son, Robert, 26, said Friday that his father did not belong to a motorcycle club, and that he had been sober for five years after suffering from addiction in the past.
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer