Authorities in Philadelphia have arrested two adults and 11 juveniles in connection with a string of burglaries at gun stores across the city in which more than 90 firearms were stolen.
The arrests were announced in a statement (pdf) by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, who said the suspects will face charges in connection to three burglaries and one attempted burglary at licensed firearm dealers in Montgomery and Bucks.
Police revealed that 93 firearms were stolen in total, of which only 33 have been recovered by law enforcement, leaving dozens of firearms unaccounted for.
“These defendants brazenly broke into gun stores and stole nearly 100 firearms, then sold and transferred them widely throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware,” Steele alleged.
“With 60 firearms unaccounted for, we still don’t know the extent of the damage by this corrupt organization’s criminal activities, including shootings and murders,” he added.
Detectives discovered through a number of investigative techniques that some of the suspects are part of a known juvenile street gang called “54th Street.”
The gang has been linked to all of the burglaries as well as the attempted burglary, which all occurred overnight between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. from Sept. 24, 2022, to Nov. 20, 2022.
Officials revealed that both adults, as well as two juveniles, will be charged in adult court.
The four suspects, all Philadelphians, have been identified as Angel Mason, 40, Elijah Terrell, 16, Donte Purnell, 22, and Liv Hall, 18. The remaining nine people, all juveniles, are from West Philadelphia and range in age from 14 to 17 years old. They will be charged in juvenile court and thus won’t be publicly identified.
Charges vary depending on the suspect, but they all include felonies in connection to operating a corrupt organization, conspiracy, trespassing, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and trafficking firearms, among many others.
According to the statement, both Mason and Purnell were released after posting bail. Mason had her bail set at $5,000, while Purnell’s bail was set at $150,000 unsecured.
Terrell had his bail set at $100,000 and was remanded to the Montgomery County Youth Center. Hall, meanwhile, is still awaiting arraignment and is currently incarcerated in Philadelphia on unrelated charges.
Details of Burglaries
In the report, officials provided specific details of each burglary.
The first burglary happened on Sept. 24, 2022, shortly after 4:20 a.m. at the store Founding Father Outfitters in Montgomery County. Here, a total of 26 firearms were stolen, the district attorney’s office said. To date, law enforcement has recovered only six guns, including one that was used in a shooting and another one that has been linked to a homicide that occurred in late September.
Investigators also noted that the burglars drove a 2020 Kia Forte during the hit, which was reportedly stolen “just prior to the burglary.”
The second incident happened on Nov. 12, 2022, when the gang targeted a dealership in Bucks County and allegedly stole 32 pistols, 8 rifles, as well as one suppressor. Law enforcement said 10 firearms have been recovered through search warrants.
On Nov. 20, 2022, a total of 27 firearms were stolen at Tanners Sports Center in Bucks County. Investigators found that one of the guns was used in an armed robbery on Dec. 14, 2022, in New Jersey. To date, 16 firearms have been recovered by law enforcement.
The fourth burglary also happened on Nov. 20, when the gang allegedly attempted to break into a dealership in Montgomery County. However, the burglary was interrupted after an individual “heard breaking glass and called 911,” officials said.
Investigators said they have obtained evidence that the street gang was planning two additional gun store burglaries, a criminal activity commonly associated with “54th Street.”
The district attorney’s office said “54th Street” is not limited to burglaries and carjackings, noting that the criminal group is also known for gun violence, especially against rival groups.