Josiah Brown was charged with hijacking U.S. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5, at gunpoint on Wednesday

PHILADELPHIA – 19-year-old Wilmington man charged by the federal government with carjacking and using a firearm in a violent felony for the representative’s carjacking Wednesday afternoon American Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5 from Swarthmore.

Josiah Brown, of the 100 block of East 24th Street, was arrested along with four minors outside the Christiana Fashion Center on Wednesday evening, according to a criminal complaint drafted by FBI Special Agent Mathew Yaeger.

“Anyone willing to victimize a complete stranger at gunpoint at any time, let alone in broad daylight, in the middle of the day, is a clear threat to our community,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge. from the Philadelphia Division of the FBI to an exit. “No one who lives, works or visits here should have to fear violent criminals who target them for their vehicle or any other property. … We will never cede this city to criminals who have a total disregard for the lives and safety of others.

Brown, who allegedly had Scanlon’s car keys with him at the time of his arrest, is the only person to be charged by the federal government in the case. A Delaware State Police statement said a 14-year-old woman and three men aged 13, 15 and 16 were also charged with receiving stolen property. The 15-year-old was also charged with resisting arrest and criminal mischief, the statement said.

The names of the minors were withheld due to their age and they were all handed over to their parents or guardians, except for the 15-year-old, who was taken to a detention center, the said. Delaware State Police.

The theft took place inside FDR Park at around 2:30 p.m. or 2:45 p.m., according to the complaint. Scanlon told a Zoom press conference Thursday afternoon that she had visited the park and its trails with members of her team and other officials discussing planned renovations.

“Obviously it was a scary thing to happen, but I am extremely grateful that no one was injured, including members of my team, with many families enjoying the park with children and dogs by a beautiful winter afternoon. ” she said.

Scanlon said she was speaking with a team member about the day’s next stop near her 2017 Acura MDX when a dark-colored SUV pulled up behind her. She didn’t pay much attention at first, but soon two young men came out of the SUV with guns, she said.

One of the men pointed a gun at Scanlon’s chest and demanded her car keys, which she quickly handed over, according to the complaint. The pair then got into his car and drove away, followed by a third person in the SUV, according to the complaint.

Scanlon said his vehicle contained an iPhone and possibly another form of GPS tracking software that authorities may have used to track the Acura to Delaware. He first stopped in the area of ​​Brown’s home address for about 30 minutes before continuing to the Christiana Fashion Center, according to the complaint.

Law enforcement found the Acura unoccupied in the parking lot and continued surveillance until a group of people approached the car, according to the complaint. Officers approached the people, who dispersed in different directions before being detained, according to the complaint.

Brown was taken to a Delaware state police barracks, where he allegedly admitted involvement in the case. He told investigators he and his accomplices were driving around Philadelphia when they decided to steal a car, according to the complaint. They entered the park and spotted Scanlon, then chose his car as the target, according to the complaint.

Brown said he had a handgun, but claims it was unloaded, according to the complaint. He also allegedly identified his accomplice as the one who pointed the gun at Scanlon. Later in the interview, Brown issued a written apology to Scanlon saying he was sorry for stealing her car and pointing a gun at her, according to the complaint.

Scanlon said she didn’t see the apology but expressed surprise.

“But clearly if this is the person who held me down yesterday she did a very stupid thing and if her apology letter is genuine then it looks like she can learn from her mistakes,” he said. she declared.

“As we all know there has been a spate of violent crime in Philadelphia, but people may not understand that armed robbery is a very serious federal offense and although there were implications. For the national security of this particular incident, we are still working with our local partners to determine whether a case should be adopted and taken up federally, ”said U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams in a brief address to the press outside the Federal Courthouse Thursday afternoon.

Arbittier Williams said Brown first appeared in court on Thursday and was detained, but did not answer questions. If found guilty, he faces life imprisonment.

Scanlon appeared calm and undeterred by her experience during the Zoom call on Thursday, saying she planned to continue spending more time in the park and with voters in South Philadelphia. She said no one should have to endure this type of lawlessness and that she would continue to push for resources and policies to reduce gun violence, including “common sense” reforms to the Law on Armed Forces. guns and lift people out of poverty.

“The point is, this type of crime can happen anywhere and to anyone,” Scanlon said. “Yesterday it happened to me. Sadly, we know that over the past two years – especially since the start of the pandemic – we have seen an increase in some crimes across the country, including gun violence and carjacking. “

At a press conference earlier today, Chief Inspector Frank Vanore of the Philadelphia Police Detective Office said car hijackings in the city have increased dramatically over the past two years, this which he partially attributed to the pandemic with people idling for a curbside delivery or food delivery to targeted drivers.

In 2019, he said, Philadelphia had just over 220 car hijackings, which rose to 341 in 2020. At the end of 2021, Vanore said Philadelphia had seen 724 car hijackings, including the apparent attempted theft or hijacking which resulted in death by gunshot. by Sam Collington, 21, Temple student and native of Prospect Park, on November 28. Latif Williams, 17, of the town’s Olney neighborhood, has been charged with murder in the case and is awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 1. .

Scanlon said President Joe Biden had contacted her and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a tweet that he was “appalled” to learn of the carjacking. Scanlon thanked everyone who sent him greetings, as well as those of his family, as well as the police who coordinated to quickly locate his vehicle and the people allegedly responsible for the hijacking.

The incident also prompted Republican candidates for public office to issue statements expressing prayers for the MP and her family, and their wishes for the future.

A statement from former Delaware County Councilor Dave White, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, went on to say that the environment that created this and dozens of other violent crimes cannot be ignored.

“As today’s news shows, the aroused state of mind of the Biden and Wolf administrations and the funding of the police movement have made us all vulnerable to violent crime,” White said. “Rather than pampering criminals, it is high time that (State) Attorney General (Josh) Shapiro and (Philadelphia) District Attorney (Larry) Krasner did their jobs, uphold the law and protect our communities. “

According to the city comptroller’s office, the Philadelphia Police Department saw its funding increase almost every year between 2006 and 2020, and a $ 33 million reduction in last year’s budget was then offset by about 18 million. millions of dollars in overtime and pay increases. The FY2022 budget for the city police is $ 727 million, roughly unchanged from 2021, and represents about 15% of the city’s total spending.

5th District Republican candidate Dave Galluch also said it was another reminder of the dramatic surge in violent crime in Philadelphia, which saw 545 homicides in 2021, including 472 fatal shootings.

“The sad reality is that we have been dealing with this violence on a daily basis for over a year,” said Galluch. “For many people living in high crime areas, there is nowhere to go. Record rates of carjackings and murders have made the lives of ordinary Philadelphia residents uncertain, disturbing and downright frightening. We can and must do better for our families and our community by supporting and funding our law enforcement, advocating for the elimination of low or no bond policies for violent offenders, and promptly pulling repeat offenders off the streets. . “

Brown had been out on unsecured bail since August for an attempted theft in a motor vehicle case outside of Chester County in November 2020, according to court records online. Brown and two other teenagers were also found by police with non-life threatening gunshot wounds inside two cars reported stolen in New Jersey in Cecil County, Md., In March. MPs were responding to reports of auto thefts in the area when they received an update of the gunfire, a statement said.

Yet Scanlon said she found the politicization of her hijacking “quite contemptible” and that her position on police reform had been “grossly misinterpreted” by some news outlets. She noted that she had family members who were retired police officers and had provided free legal services to first responders for decades before being elected in 2019.

“I wish they would focus instead on the fact that we can prevent gun violence with some common sense gun safety measures, including removing the loopholes in background checks and giving police the tools. that she needs, ”she said.

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