As I noted here in a previous piece, I have a friend who was carjacked by gunpoint some months ago when he was picking up his daughter from her workplace late one evening.

He’s a tough South Philly guy, hardly a snowflake, but he is still traumatized over the incident, although he did not use the word traumatized.

He told me that he remains bothered over the carjacking, wondering if he should have drawn his legally carried firearm and defended himself and his car.

“The car was insured, but in the car were personal items and I hate that these two creeps took them from me,” my friend said. “I could have blasted the one who came to my car window and pointed a gun at me, but I’m not sure I would have got the second one.”

He said he worried that his daughter might have been hit with a stray bullet when she walked out into the street, so he got out of his car and handed over his car keys. 

“They were kids, teenagers, and we know they can’t shoot for shit, holding the gun sideways like they do in the movies. I thought these idiots would shoot at me and hit my daughter.” 

I mentioned to my friend that city and federal law enforcement recently held a press conference to highlight the impact of their two-year task force on carjacking in the city. 

“I hope they can put an end to this violent crime and make sure nobody else becomes a victim like me,” he said. “I just hate being a crime victim.”     

On April 12th, Jaqueline C. Romero, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, held a press conference along with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Kevin J. Bethel, ATF Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge Eric J. DeGree, and FBI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs, the leaders of the law enforcement agencies that comprise the Philadelphia Carjacking Task Force.

The law enforcement officials at the press conference spoke of the benefits of the task force partnership, the task force’s several significant investigations. and accomplishments over the past two years. 

U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero spoke of the number of carjackings in Philadelphia. After hitting a historical high of 1,311 in 2022, it dropped 31 percent to 900 in 2023. In addition, the numbers for the first quarter of 2024 are indicative of another marked decline from last year.

She said that from January 2022 through March 2024, 59 cases investigated by the Carjacking Task Force have resulted in federal charges, with a total of 103 defendants federally charged in connection with 121 individual carjackings.

Romero also discussed recent case developments, such as the sentencing of Dashawn Pringle to 10½ years in prison for two armed carjackings and the guilty plea of John Nusslein to two carjackings, including one where an elderly delivery driver was fatally beaten, resulting in a potential sentence of 25 years in prison. She also noted the guilty pleas of Angel Fayez and Kevin Antun to a crime spree that began with a carjacking. According to Romero, Fayez and Antun are now facing mandatory minimum sentences of seven years in prison, and statutory maximum sentences of life in prison.

“We want our community to know that significant strides are being made on their behalf by the Philadelphia Carjacking Task Force,” Romero said. “At the same time, we want carjackers, and would-be carjackers, to know that we can and have charged defendants as young as eighteen years old federally, and in the cases we’ve prosecuted, we’ve obtained some very significant sentences. Carjacking defendants routinely receive sentences of seven to fifteen years — and can even face up to a lifetime of imprisonment in some cases.”

ATF Special Agent in Charge DeGree talked about ATF’s role on the task force, providing investigators and employing ATF’s crime gun intelligence tools. He also highlighted one of the agency’s key cases, in which Tarik Chambers and Kikeem Leach-Hilton committed three back-to-back carjackings, then crashed into and critically injured an elderly driver while fleeing from police. The men were sentenced to more than eighteen years in prison. Two other defendants in the same carjacking crew, Rashad Johnson-Price and Khasir Lynch, have pleaded guilty to additional carjackings; each faces about a decade in federal prison when sentenced.

“Our team of ATF special agents are working tirelessly with our partners in the Philadelphia Carjacking Task Force to seek justice and prevent these dangerous crimes,” DeGree said. “Carjacking is not only a deadly dangerous crime, it is a serious federal offense, carrying lengthy federal prison sentences, even for first-time offenders.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Jacobs spoke of the cases of Shamire Young and Robert Riles. Jacobs said Young and three co-conspirators committed a carjacking at gunpoint in Northwest Philadelphia, pistol-whipping one of the victims. Young pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years behind bars. Riles and two co-conspirators committed a carjacking at gunpoint of a mother and daughter in West Philadelphia, with Riles pleading guilty and receiving a sentence of more than eleven years in prison.

“Whether a single subject or a group of subjects — with criminal history or without — the message is simple. Your actions have consequences,” Jacobs said.  “No matter who you are, the FBI and each agency on this task force will hold you to account.”

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Bethel spoke of the decrease in carjackings in the city over the last two years, crediting the work of the task force for getting numerous violent offenders off the street. Bethel spoke of the importance of partnerships like the Carjacking Task Force and how local and federal authorities must work together to reduce violent crime.

The success of the task force, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting the carjackers in federal court rather than having Philadelphia District Attorney Larry “Let ‘Em Loose” Krasner prosecute them, is a step in the right direction. 

There are still carjackings, to be sure, but the feds, along with the Philadelphia Police, can cause would-be-carjackers to pause, and they can put the violent carjackers in federal prison. 

Paul Davis, a Philadelphia writer and frequent contributor to Broad + Liberty, also contributes to Counterterrorism magazine and writes the “On Crime” column for the Washington Times. He can be reached at

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