In Northwest Philadelphia’s sprawling 14th Police District, one topic that dominated community conversations this month involves a series of robberies in East Mt. Airy.
As reported by NewsWorks, police arrested 33-year-old Gary Corbett of the 7300 block of Devon St. in connection to five separate incidents that occurred between Oct. 2 and 16.
In each of the robberies, no weapon was used, but physical force was. (A sixth incident at the intersection of Germantown and Mt. Airy avenues on Oct. 7, in which the victim was held up at the point of a simulated weapon, is not currently being attributed to Corbett.)
Currently being held on $25,000 bail, his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.
How the arrest was made
At recent community meetings in Police Service Areas (PSA) Three and Four, police described the efforts that took place to apprehend the suspect.
Once a pattern was suspected, additional patrol resources were assigned to the area where the robberies were occurring. Placing a decoy officer disguised as a potential victim in the area was among those efforts.
“We were working to the best of our abilities,” Lt. Michael Whaley told residents, noting that the suspect still managed to elude police for several days.
On the night of his arrest, a couple of plainclothes officers noticed Corbett. They then followed and arrested him in the area of Chestnut Hill Hospital. He ultimately confessed to detectives, police said.
Police learned that he was using nearby train tracks to escape the crime scenes. By the time officers arrived, Corbett was safely home at an apartment he shared with his girlfriend only blocks away from the incidents.
“This was a big win for us,” observed Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum.
In 14th District Police Service Areas One and Two, which cover Germantown and West Oak Lane, two brutal shootings that occurred within 24 hours of each other captured the attention of residents and investigators.
On Oct. 22, a 28-year-old man was found shot to death inside a black Nissan Altima along the 6600 block of Ross St. in East Mt. Airy.
Official reports indicate that the man was found in the car bleeding from his neck and was unresponsive upon the arrival of police, who found the passenger door open and the driver’s-side window broken out. Detectives recovered ballistic evidence from inside the vehicle.
The victim was subsequently identified as 28-year-old Telly Bell of the 7000 block of Ditman St.
In the second case, which occurred less than a day later, a man was found fatally shot in the rear driver-side seat of a white Mercury Sable on the 6900 block of N. 15th St.
Police said that he suffered multiple gunshots to the head and chest and was pronounced dead at the West Oak Lane scene at 12:55 a.m. The driver’s door was found ajar, and numerous spent shell casing were recovered from inside and outside the vehicle.
Police identified the victim as Christopher Parker, 32, of the 7400 block of Sommers Road.
No information about suspects or motive was available. The crime scenes are approximately three miles apart from one another.
A police spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday morning that the murders remain under investigation and that no arrests have been made.