Craigslist homicide, ambushed-rapper cases discussed at public police meeting

 Police on the scene of a Friday night homicide which left a man responding to a Craigslist ad dead. (Matthew Grady/for Newsworks)

Police on the scene of a Friday night homicide which left a man responding to a Craigslist ad dead. (Matthew Grady/for Newsworks)

Despite declining crime statistics both locally and citywide, several high-profile violent crimes in sections of the 14th Police District have drawn significant attention in recent weeks.

As reported by NewsWorks, a man was found dead on the 1400 block of E. Walnut Lane after being shot in the ankle and head just after 11 p.m. Friday.

The victim — 27-year-old Daniel Cooke from Williamstown, NJ — was in West Oak Lane answering a Craigslist ad for an ATV. The following day, homicide detectives arrested and charged Willow Grove resident Thomas Coffee, 23, with murder and related offenses.

“Craigslist crime is not uncommon,” said Lt. Anthony Buchanico, a 14th District Supervisor assigned to Police Service Area One (PSA-1), which includes West Oak Lane and East Germantown.

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‘Jimme Wallstreet’ targeted

While police indicated this murder appears to be a robbery gone awry, other recent violent acts in the area were targeted.

On June 20, rapper James Davis IV — better known by his stage name ‘Jimme Wallstreet‘ — was ambushed on the steps to his mother’s house on the 900 block of E. Church Lane in East Germantown.

Shot multiple times, he was unresponsive upon police arrival and declared dead at Albert Einstein Medical Center. Police found seven shell casings at the scene along with a handgun magazine at the site.

Other instances of gun violence

Earlier in the month, police responded to a triple shooting outside a bar in West Oak Lane.

Just before 4 a.m. June 1, a man wearing a red baseball cap approached a group outside Winston’s Lounge on the 1800 block of Cheltenham Ave. Three people were hit by gunfire, including a woman in her thirties who was shot in the abdomen and arm and was listed in critical condition at Einstein.

Buchanico assured those present at a PSA-1 meeting Tuesday night that the majority of violent crime is targeted.

“Most of the gunplay isn’t random,” Buchanico observed. “They know who they’re going after.”

Statistical crime decrease

Despite these prominent acts, Buchanico discussed the ongoing decrease in monthly crime stats in PSA-1; across the 14th District, violent crime is down 13 percent and property crimes down 26 percent year-to-date.

Aggravated assaults have dropped in the month leading up to the meeting from 19 to 15, with five arrests being reported.

Robberies have decreased from 20 to 11, a 45-percent decrease significantly above the 16-percent citywide decrease during a similar time period. Two arrests were made.

The majority of burglaries, down to 16 from 17, occurred during daylight hours — with kicked-in doors being a common means of entry — but said no distinct pattern has emerged otherwise. To combat these burglaries, plainclothes officers and tactical units are bolstering regular patrol officers.

He asked for ongoing public participation in preventing crime, noting that more calls to police investigate suspicious people have occurred since he assumed his post.

“If [the burglars] know we’re on to them, it may deter them,” he said at the monthly meeting, which was held at Finley Recreation Center.

Quality of life calls

Buchanico discussed a recent encounter with a resident upset with what he perceived were ongoing disturbances emanating from the property opposite his, which happens to be a major city recreation center.

In response, Buchanico investigated the complaint history at the recreation center and found there had been eight radio calls in six months, and 24 police contacts at the site during the same time period, nine of which were for truancy.

For local police, these numbers don’t elevate the rec center to “problem site” status.

Buchanico encouraged anyone living within PSA-1 to bring their problems to the monthly meetings.

“If you have problems, we want to hear them,” he said. “If we can fix them, then we will fix them.”

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