Philadelphia Woman Claims Police Refused to Help Her and 90-Year-Old Grandmother Escape Burning Home: ‘You Didn’t Rescue Nobody’

A Black Philadelphia woman claims her own heroism is the reason she and her grandmother survived a house fire, not the local police who told the media they were responsible for saving the two women. 

“I’m so upset with Philadelphia police, and then to get on camera and lie and say that you helped, say that you rescued two women, you didn’t rescue nobody,” Tammy Morris told Fox 29.

Tammy Harris speaks to Fox29 about saving herself and her grandmother during fire. Credit: Fox29 Video Screenshot

The conflicting accounts of a domestic incident that turned into disaster took place in the early morning hours of March 28.

Morris said she was being held at gunpoint by her boyfriend when she called police to her Eastwick residence. She also claimed her boyfriend was making threats to burn the house down and had pistol-whipped her.

The boyfriend allegedly proceeded to pour gasoline throughout the house, turned on the gas stove and lit the home on fire.

“That’s what he said, ‘Imma blow this b—h up,’” recounted Morris.

Police arrived in the 2500 block of South 71st Street around 3:30 a.m., where they found the home engulfed in flames. Inside were 56-year-old Morris and her 90-year-old grandmother. 

Despite the noticeable smell of gasoline and the sight of flames coming from inside the home, Morris claims police refused to come inside to assist her and her grandmother to safety. Instead police urged Morris to climb from a second-story window.

Once out of the home she implored police to help her grandmother. 

“I said my grandmama in there, she’s 90-year-old, go get her. They said, ‘We can’t go in there, he’s got a gun.'” Seeing no other option, Morris ran into the home and pulled her grandmother to the front door.

“When I got to the front door I just came out enough so I can breathe and so she could breathe, I had her head out but her body was still in the door, the cops would not come up there to help me,” said Morris of the ordeal. Two passersby instead helped her pull the elderly woman over the threshold. 

A witnessing neighbor validated Morris’ account of the incident.

However, the police account of the event differs. They claim to have arrived at the home and encountered the 56-year-old boyfriend, who pointed a gun at them, but no shots were fired. A spokesperson for the department told the media two 12th Precinct officers entered the home and removed Morris and her grandmother from the burning home. 

The boyfriend’s body was found inside the home. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

As for Morris, she is grateful to be alive and only having to receive minor treatment for her injuries. Still, she said the truth of the situation is that police failed her in a time of need.

“I appreciate [police] every time they come out and I still respect the cops, because it ain’t all them, but whoever was in charge definitely didn’t handle it right,” Morris said. 

A police statement to Fox 29 addressing the discrepancy in accounts of the ordeal reads in part:

“It is important to keep in mind that officers speaking to the press are working off of preliminary information gathered on the scene—many of these scenes are still active and not all facts pertaining to the case have been gathered. The findings of investigations are subject to change as police gather additional information from other officers, complainants, witnesses and offenders.”

Back to top