Archive: August, 2009
A few bits of crime news, collected by Stephanie Farr, John F. Morrison and yours truly:
*A man wearing a Chicago White Sox hat robbed the Citizens Bank branch at 5th Street near Godfrey Avenue in Olney this morning. The man handed a teller a demand note and fled with an undisclosed amount of money, the FBI said. He was described as a short black man in his early 20s with a mustache and goatee. Anyone with information about his identity should call the FBI at 215-418- 4000.
*District Attorney Lynne Abraham and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced that the city’s Gun Violence Task Force will start arresting people who lie on their applications for firearms licenses. The task force, which combines police officers and assistant district attorneys, began in 2006 with funding from the state. So far the operation has made 346 arrests and seized 673 firearms.
A convicted robber with a lengthy rap sheet has been charged with assaulting two women at a Center City Marriot. Anthony Thomas, 28, was arrested Sunday night by SEPTA cops, hours after he attacked a woman about to enter her room on the 15th floor, said Det. Michael Rocks, of Central Detectives.
Thomas had apparently followed the woman, 52, on an elevator. When she used a key card to open her door, he slashed her with a knife and stole about $300, Rocks said.
On Aug. 6, Thomas struck again at the Marriot, at 12th and Market streets. In that incident, he forced his way into the room of a 42-year-old woman, assaulted her and stole $25, Rocks said.
Both cases, Rocks said, “were pretty scary. He just went into the hotel and wandered around until he found someone who made a good target.”
Thomas, of West Philadelphia, was charged with aggravated assault, robbery and related offenses. According to court records, he was sentenced to six to 23 months in prison in 2004 on robbery charges. That same year, he was sentenced to nine months’ probation on counterfitting and theft charges. Thomas was also sentenced to 5 years’ probation in 2008 for terroristic threats, records show.
As promised, here's the full list of the 40 people charged in "Operation Ice Breaker," the law enforcement operation which took down a $2.5 million crystal meth ring. The ring, which was run by William Lees of Port Richmond, also involved 15 members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, according to state Attorney General Tom Corbett. The meth was distributed across Philly, several surrounding suburbs and South Jersey. To read the story, click here. All are charged with a variety of offenses, including criminal conspiracy, possession with the intent to deliver, criminal use of a communication facility and corrupt organizations:
*Jose Torres, 41, of Philadelphia
*Rebecca Guirate, 31, of Philadelphia
Detectives charged two men Saturday with a string of South Philadelphia armed robberies, all of which occurred on Aug. 20. Police said the alleged crooks, My “K” Nguyen, 19, and Phuong Lee, 23, first struck at 1:12 a.m. at Dalia’s Grocery Store, on 8th Street near League, where they stole 10 packs of cigarettes. Nguyen fired a handgun at an employee during the heist, but no one was injured.
Two hours later, police said, Nguyen and Lee held up a 7-Eleven at 10th Street and Snyder Avenue at gunpoint, and fled with an unknown amount of cash. Nguyen fired shots at a 7-Eleven employee, but no one was injured in that incident either. At 10:12 p.m., Nguyen held up La Manzaneza, 8th and Wilder streets, and made off with cigarettes and $150 in cash, police said. Nguyen, of 8th and Ritner streets, was charged with three counts of robbery and weapons offenses. Lee, of Williamstown, N.J., was charged with two counts of robbery and related offenses.
Gather 'round, kids -- it's time for the daily crime roundup!
*A car crash in North Philly this morning left a motorist dead and his passenger critically injured. Witnesses told cops that a gray Cadillac slammed into a wall at Broad and Huntingdon streets at 12:46 a.m., police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said.
The 40-year-old driver, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene. His female passenger was admitted to Temple University Hospital in critical condition with massive head trauma and injuries to her chest and abdomen, Vanore said.
*Police earlier today released video from surveillance cameras showing two robberies early Thursday.
In the first robbery, about 12 a.m., a man riding a silver bicycle targeted a 24-year-old Temple University student walking on Girard Avenue near 13th Street. The man shot the student in the stomach before taking off with the student’s iPhone. The student remained hospitalized yesterday in stable condition. Police described the suspect as a thin black male in his late teens or early 20s, with long sideburns.
In the other videotaped robbery, two young Asian males with handguns, wearing dark T-shirts, black baseball caps and black Converse sneakers, entered a 7-Eleven on 10th Street near Snyder Avenue just after 3 a.m. and demanded money. One of the men fired a bullet above the store clerk’s head, but the clerk was unharmed. The robbers got away with a substantial amount of Lottery money, police said.
Eleven years ago, Paul Jackson was trying to find his place in the world.
An outgoing guy with an adventurous spirit, he took a chance on the Army, and ended up as a helicopter air-crew member with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in Fort Campbell, Ky.
It proved to be a perfect match.
Jackson’s relatives said he thrived in his newfound career with the Army, rising to the rank of staff sergeant. He was deployed 10 times to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Along the way, the former Mount Airy resident and alum of Walter B. Saul High School also married and had a daughter.
Jackson’s full and promising life came to a tragic end Tuesday, when he and three other soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash near Leadville, Colo.
Walter Sokalski, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, said Jackson, 33, was on an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that was “conducting routine mountain training” near Mount Massive.
Jackson and the other soldiers — Staff Sgt. Chad Tucker, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Johnson and Chief Warrant Officer Terrance Geer — might have been preparing for flying conditions they could encounter in an overseas mission, Sokalski said.
The helicopter crashed about 4 p.m. local time. Army officials recovered the helicopter’s flight data recorder, but are still unsure what caused the crash, Sokalski said.
Jackson’s death stunned his family, which has endured a string of recent heartaches, said Rudolph Tolbert, the father of Jackson’s older brother, Mpozi Tolbert.
Mpozi Tolbert, an Indianapolis Star photographer, died three years ago. Earlier this year, Jackson’s father, Melvin Jackson, also died.
“We’re devastated. We lost another good man,” Tolbert said.
Jackson often visited his old Mount Airy neighborhood, where his mother, Maisha Brenda Jackson, still lives, Tolbert noted.
Jackson’s wife, Loni, and daughter, Desiree, 8, lived with Jackson near Fort Campbell.
“He was a very cordial guy who loved his family,” Tolbert said of Jackson.
Jackson, who thought college would move too slowly for him, loved flying, Tolbert said.
“He used to say, ‘It really helps you focus when you have to take apart a helicopter, put it in a transport, then put it back together and fly it. It keeps your mind pretty tight,’” Tolbert said.
Army officials said Jackson served nine deployments in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
He collected numerous commendations, including the Air Medal for valor, three Air Medals and two Army Commendation Medals.
So, who’s the tough guy who beat up and robbed a defenseless 100-year-old man?
That’s the question on the lips of outraged cops and Southwest Philadelphia residents who are still simmering over the savage beat-down that was leveled on unsuspecting Joseph Dimarco in Elmwood last Friday.
Dimarco, fresh after a stroll to pick up some groceries, was walking towards the door of his rowhouse, on Grovers Avenue near 68th Street, at about 4 p.m., when a cold-blooded creep attacked him from behind.
The fiend “puts the victim in a choke hold from behind, throws him to the ground, and takes his groceries and about $30,” said Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives.
“Even though he had clearly gotten the better of a much older man, [the suspect]continued to beat his head for no reason,” Walker said.
The crook, whom Dimarco described as a black man in his 30s, fled on foot through nearby Paschall Park, Walker added.
Investigators have not found any eyewitnesses to the attack.
Dimarco spent five days at Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital, where doctors treated him for bleeding on the brain, Walker said.
Remarkably, the centenarian’s condition improved enough for him to be released from the hospital.
“We were a little concerned about the blood on the brain, but it appears he’s going to be able to overcome it,” Walker said.
Many of Dimarco’s neighbors on Grovers Avenue said earlier tonight that they had just learned of the brutal attack.
“It’s a shame. I mean, that’s a terrible thing to happen to anybody, let alone a 100-year-old man,” said resident Darris Ramsey.
Ramsey said most of the people on Grovers, a long, quiet block lined with green lawns, stay indoors and keep to themselves.
Moustapha Doucoure, Dimarco’s next-door neighbor, described Dimarco as a pleasant man who regularly walks through the neighborhood and chats up others.
Doucoure said he was saddened when he learned how brutally Dimarco had been attacked. He had two words to describe the gutless thief: “Damn stupid.”
Another neighbor, meanwhile, suggested the robber “should be shot, and thrown in jail.”
Despite the emotional reactions, Walker said investigators have not found any witnesses to the attack.
Tipsters can contact detectives at 215-686-3083 or -3084.
A SEPTA train struck and killed a woman who apparently jumped on the underground tracks at the 8th Street Station in Center City earlier today.
Witnesses told investigators that the woman jumped from the far end of the platform at about 3:30 p.m. and landed in front of an oncoming eastbound Market-Frankford train, said SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:50 p.m.
SEPTA provided shuttle bus service for commuters between 15th and Spring Garden streets while the apparent suicide was being investigated, Williams said.