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Press Release

U.S. Attorney McSwain Announces Charges against Philadelphia Man for Blowing Up an ATM and Illegal Possession of a Firearm during Protests

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that David Elmakayes, 24, of Philadelphia, PA, was charged by criminal complaint with malicious damage of property with an explosive device and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The defendant is currently in federal custody and will make his initial appearance in federal court tomorrow. The government will be seeking the defendant’s detention pending trial on these charges.

Following peaceful protests on May 30, 2020, in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, civil unrest began to unfold in Philadelphia later that day and continued for several days thereafter. Widespread looting, burglary, arson, destruction of property, and other violent acts occurred.

The complaint alleges that on June 3, 2020, at approximately 11:45 p.m., Elmakayes used an explosive device to heavily damage an automated teller machine (ATM) on the sidewalk at 217 East Westmoreland Street in North Philadelphia. When he was arrested a short time later, he had three more explosive devices in his possession, as well as a .32 caliber pistol.

“Blowing up an ATM and illegal firearms possession are not acts of protest against perceived injustice. They are federal felonies and will be treated as such,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “As alleged, Elmakayes tried to take advantage of the unrest in Philadelphia to get away with a violent crime. Now he will face the consequences.”

“It is always disconcerting when individuals take advantage of sensitive situations to destroy property and terrorize our communities,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge John Schmidt, ATF Philadelphia Field Division. “When individuals choose to recklessly put innocent lives in danger, we commit our resources and unique capabilities in working with our law enforcement partners to bring those responsible to justice. This arrest is an example of how a joint effort with the Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s office did exactly that. We will continue to work together to ensure the safety of our citizens.”

If convicted, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum of fifteen years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, and a $500,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph A. LaBar

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


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Updated June 18, 2020

Violent Crime