MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA — Two adults and 11 juveniles have been charged with three burglaries and an attempted burglary at gun stores in Montgomery and Bucks counties, according to authorities.
A total of 93 firearms were stolen from three gun shops, with 33 firearms seized by law enforcement, leaving 60 firearms on the streets unreported, officials said.
The gun shops were in Springfield Township in Montgomery County and Warwick and Chalfont in Bucks County. An attempted theft was committed at a Hatboro gun store.
The three burglaries and attempted burglaries occurred between September 24, 2022 and November 20, 2022. All were nighttime burglaries that occurred between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m
In adult court, two adults and two direct hires, all from Philadelphia, were charged: Angel Mason, 40, of Poplar Street, Elijah Terrell, 16, also of Poplar Street, Donte Purnell, 22, of Olympus Place, and Liv Halle, 18, Pfarrstrasse.
The direct file can also be referred to as prosecutorial discretion and allows prosecutors to bring charges against juveniles in an adult criminal court.
Nine West Philadelphia youths, ages 14 to 17, have been charged in a juvenile court. Charges vary by defendant, but all include charges of felonies related to the operation of a corrupt organization, conspiracy, criminal use of a communications facility, and charges of arms trafficking.
Authorities said the suspect gained access to every gun shop, smashed glass cases and stole numerous firearms before fleeing.
Evidence revealed the group also planned and had not yet carried out two other gun store break-ins, officials said.
“These defendants shamelessly broke into gun stores and stole nearly 100 firearms, then sold and shipped them throughout Southeast Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. With 60 firearms missing, we still do not know the extent of the damage from this corrupt organization’s criminal activities, including shootings and murders,” said Kevin R. Steele, Montgomery County District Attorney.
The details of each break-in are:
- September 24, 2022 (4:22 am) – Founding Fathers Outfitters, Lafayette Hill area of Springfield Township, Montgomery County: 26 firearms stolen, 6 recovered by law enforcement to date, including one used in a Philadelphia shooting and one found on a suspect who involved in a September 29, 2022 murder in Philadelphia; Also notable in this burglary is that the burglars were driving a 2020 Kia Forte that was stolen in Philadelphia shortly before the burglary.
- Nov 12, 2022 (4:20 am) – Target Word Gun Shop in Chalfont, New Britain Township in Bucks County: 32 pistols, 8 rifles and a silencer stolen, 10 firearms seized by law enforcement through search warrants to date.
- Nov 20, 2022 (2:15 am) – Attempted burglary of the Continental Armory in Hatboro, Montgomery County; Burglary was interrupted when a person heard glass breaking and called 911.
- November 20, 2022 (2:41 am): Gerber Sports Center in Warwick Township in Bucks County; 27 firearms stolen, 16 seized by law enforcement including one used in armed robbery in Pennsauken, NJ on December 14, 2022; The vehicle fled at a speed of over 100 km/h.
Through the use of numerous investigative techniques, including interviews, physical surveillance, CCTV, social media analysis, and cellphone data and recordings, the investigation found that several members of a well-known, neighborhood-based Philadelphia juvenile street gang called “54th Street” — were responsible for the three completed gun shop burglaries and one attempted gun shop burglary in Montgomery and Bucks counties.
Criminal activities commonly associated with 54th Street include auto theft, robbery, burglary and gun violence, particularly against rival groups, police officials said.
Detectives determined that the 93 stolen firearms were quickly distributed and passed illegally between members of the corrupt organization and others, resulting in these stolen weapons being used to commit crimes.
Of the 33 stolen firearms recovered, several were recovered by law enforcement
during the commission of crimes.
- September 26, 2022 – A Glock 17 firearm stolen two days earlier was found by Philadelphia police owned by Ellijah Terrell at the scene of an armed robbery at 5500 Poplar Street in Philadelphia.
- October 5, 2022 – An H&K 9mm firearm stolen during the Sept. 24, 2022 burglary was recovered by Philadelphia police while executing a search warrant related to shootings on Sept. 29, 2022 at 54th Street and of Willows Avenue, where a 16-year-old died from a gunshot wound to the head and a 14-year-old was also shot but survived.
- December 14, 2022 – A firearm stolen in the Tanner Sports Center burglary has been recovered by Pennsauken, NJ police after it was used by a youth in an armed robbery.
A preliminary hearing of defendants Mason, Purnell and Terrell is scheduled for February 13 at 9:00 am before District Judge Catherine E. McGill.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Samantha Arena, who is a member of the Firearms Division.
The joint investigation into these gun shop break-ins was conducted by the Montgomery County Detective Bureau, Bucks County Detective Bureau, ATF-Philadelphia Field Division and Springfield Township Police with the participation of Philadelphia Police, Hatboro Police, New Britain Township Police and Warwick Township Police.
The investigation was also assisted by the FBI, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and the Delaware State Police.