AG Henry: Carjacking, Possession of ‘Ghost Guns’ Among Recent Crimes Involving Young People and Firearms in Philadelphia

January 18, 2024 | Topic: Criminal

Gun Violence Task Force Continues Collaborative Prevention, Enforcement Efforts to Thwart Youth-Involved Violence

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced recent arrests involving young people in the Philadelphia area for alleged crimes with firearms — results of the Office of Attorney General’s focus on youth and gun violence.

Attorney General Henry’s Gun Violence Task Force collaborates with local, state, and federal agencies to stop straw purchases and other illegal gun transfers, illegal possession of firearms, and violent crimes that happen as a result.

Already this month, the Task Force engaged in multiple investigations resulting in arrests of juveniles and young offenders — some already on juvenile probation for gun crimes.

“We have seen a wave of criminal conduct involving youthful offenders and firearms to start the new year,” Attorney General Henry said. “The crimes involve alarming behavior perpetrated by young people, including teenagers who have prior gun offenses. My office will continue its collaborative enforcement efforts, as well as community outreach initiatives, such as our student roundtable events and proactive prevention programs tailored for young people, in order to combat this public health crisis affecting our youth.”

Although names and certain case details cannot be disclosed due to the defendants’ ages, the recent cases included:

  • A 16-year-old — on probation with GPS monitoring for prior firearms offenses — was observed possessing an AK-47 on Instagram. The juvenile was arrested and charged Jan. 5 with felony illegal firearm possession and also with an armed carjacking in December, in which the AK-47 was used. Agents recovered the AK-47, a handgun, a pellet gun that resembled a handgun, and narcotics.
  • Agents recovered three firearms — two handguns, both previously reported stolen, and a shotgun — and charged four young people (three 16-year-olds and a 14-year-old), with illegal possession of a firearm after a search warrant was executed on Jan. 4. The warrant resulted from a prison video call in which a person was displaying ghost guns allegedly owned by a teenager on juvenile probation for prior firearms offenses.
  • Possession charges were filed Jan. 10 against a 17-year-old on juvenile probation for firearms offenses after the juvenile displayed firearms and boasted about selling and buying firearms, while on a prison video call with an acquaintance. A loaded ghost gun with an extended magazine and a switch converting it to a fully-automatic firearm were recovered, along with a pellet gun that resembled a handgun.

The recovered firearms are pictured HERE.

The arrests involved collaboration with probation officials and the Philadelphia Police Department. The Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force also works with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and other local law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices.

Attorney General Henry recently finished a series of roundtable discussions with students across the Commonwealth on the impact of gun violence and what could make students feel safer in schools and at home. Many students gave feedback that they know peers have easy access to firearms, and that some of those young people feel they have no other option but to illegally carry firearms to protect themselves.

The Office of Attorney General also has community outreach staff that works with school and community leaders to prevent and deter students from engaging in criminal behavior. Part of those efforts involve identifying and intervening with students at an elevated risk of offending.

The office also continues its Safe2Say initiative, which is a youth violence prevention program that teaches youth and adults how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others. The program offers easy and confidential channels for people to report safety concerns to help prevent violence and other tragedies. In 2023, Safe2Say received a record-number of reports/tips, with many of the tips involving reports of firearms, or concerns about firearms.

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