Man arrested in Roxborough HS shooting was sold ammo despite felon status, police say

Deputy Chief Vanore provides updates on the arrest of the alleged Roxborough High School shooter. (Sam Searles/WHYY)

Deputy Chief Vanore provides updates on the arrest of the alleged Roxborough High School shooter. (Sam Searles/WHYY)

Working on a solution to gun violence and want to share it? Get in touch with gun violence prevention reporters Sammy Caiola and Sam Searles.

Starting on a new monthly schedule and once again meeting in person, a Gun Violence Response news conference was held Wednesday at Philadelphia’s City Hall. Much of the conversation focused on the first recent arrest made in the Roxborough High School shooting.

Yaseen Bivens has been arrested and charged with murder after police recovered a receipt for ammunition from a car used in the shooting.

“Because of his status as being a felon,” said Philadelphia Police Deputy Chief Frank Vanore, “we were able to use our federal partners and arrest him for being ineligible to purchase ammunition. He was taken into federal custody on [Oct. 6] and he’s been held since that point in time.”

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Police said the ammunition receipt had Bivens’ name on it. Officers were able to use surveillance from an unnamed South Philly gun shop and ballistic evidence taken from the scene to confirm. Bivens’ is a convicted felon, making it illegal for him to have a gun.

Lawmakers have introduced legislation to increase the two-year mandatory minimum for felons who possess guns or ammunition: a 10 year mandatory minimum was proposed last year, and an 11 month minimum for first time offenders was proposed last month.

Mayor Jim Kenney said the gun shop who sold to Bivens should be “held accountable.”

[“This is] a good example of why this state is as wide open as it is; when a convicted felon can walk into a quote unquote reputable gun shop and buy ammunition to go kill somebody, there’s something wrong with that setup.”

Mayor Kenney speaks at the Gun Violence Response press conference at City Hall. (Sam Searles/WHYY)
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Kenney added that Bivens should not have been able to purchase from the gun store. “Illegal guns should not be in their hands,” he said. “These young kids are getting killed left and right [in] what would have been fistfights at a playground over a hard foul in a basketball game. That’s the insanity of the state.”

The next gun violence news conference is scheduled for next month.

If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources here.

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Sam Searles is a Report for America corps member covering gun violence and prevention for WHYY News.

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