U.S. Attorney McSwain Announces Charges Against Two Convicted Felons for Illegal Possession of Firearms Amidst Ongoing Protests in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Police Arrested Both Men While Investigating a Tip About Theft of an ATM During the Mandatory Citywide Curfew
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Steven Pennycooke, 34, and Shawn Collins, 27, both of Philadelphia, PA, were each charged by criminal complaint with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The criminal complaints and arrest warrants against both men were unsealed this morning prior to their initial appearances in federal court.
Following peaceful protests on the afternoon of May 30th in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, civil unrest began to unfold in Philadelphia, resulting in widespread rioting, looting, burglary, arson, destruction of property, and other violent acts.
On the night of June 2nd, while a mandatory curfew was in effect, the Philadelphia Police Department received a call regarding two individuals loading an ATM onto a cart on the 4100 block of Viola Street in the Parkside section of West Philadelphia. Officers responded to the scene and observed what appeared to be a safe in the middle of the street. The officers also observed two individuals fitting the description from the original call—Pennycooke and Collins—standing near a vehicle about halfway down the block from the safe.
According to the complaint, Pennycooke removed an object, later confirmed to be a loaded 9mm Hi-Point C9 handgun, from his waistband and discarded it in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle parked nearby. Collins was also found to have a firearm in his waistband, later confirmed to be a loaded 9mm Taurus PT24/7 G2 C handgun. Both Pennycooke and Collins are convicted felons and cannot legally possess firearms. Also according to the complaint, Collins acknowledged to the arresting officer that he did not have a permit to carry a firearm.
“As I made clear last week, my Office is committed to prosecuting anybody who took advantage of the George Floyd protests to try to commit violent acts or otherwise violate federal law. There will be accountability,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “In this case, two previously convicted felons are charged with allegedly possessing firearms, which presents a clear danger to the community. We will continue to enforce the rule of law in Philadelphia and throughout the Eastern District of Pennsylvania during this period of unrest – and always.”
“Amid the recent civil unrest in the city sparked by lawless instigators, these two alleged armed felons were found among the looters,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Such criminal acts detract attention from the message of those who choose to peacefully protest. Today's charges demonstrate that the FBI will work swiftly with our law enforcement partners to take individuals who pose a threat to our community off the streets.”
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum possible sentence of ten years’ imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Derek E. Hines.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.