The widespread looting seen in Philadelphia last week appears to have subsided, at least for the moment, but the City of Brotherly Love is still dealing with some serious crime problems. While homicides are down nearly 25% compared to last year, and gun-involved crimes are also less common than they were in 2022, the city still feels almost lawless at times.
Last Sunday night, for instance, the bustling Center City district was the site of a street takeover by scores of ATV and dirt bike riders. One unknown rider assaulted a driver at gunpoint, headbutting her with his bike helmet and sending her to the pavement after a verbal confrontation led to him smashing her back windshield.
Nikki Bullock, the woman whose car was damaged, spoke with NBC10’s Aaron Baskerville about what led up to the incident.
Bullock was in the car the armed dirt bike rider jumped on with her girlfriend and her two children, 5 and 2. They were delivering food at the time.
“They’re not paying attention to lanes. They’re just doing whatever. So I’m turning in the lane and he just hits the side of the car,” Bullock said.
Bullock told NBC10 she had argued with the man after that impact, until the bike rider decided to attack her vehicle.
“He jumped up here with two feet,” she said, pointing out where the man launched himself onto her back bumper. “He stepped his first foot down. Didn’t work, so, them he was like…and, went through.”
Video shows the biker jumping on the rear window of Bullock’s car before falling through her rear windshield as it shattered. He steps off the car and drops a firearm to the ground, before picking it up as she exited the vehicle.
When he pulled the firearm up to her eye level, she stood her ground, wanting to protect the children in the vehicle.
“It was just like, it was a little gun and at that point, my windshield was already broken so, what was he really going to do to me, for real?” she asked.
As can be seen in the video, when the argument got heated, the rider head-butted Bullock, using his helmet as a weapon against her face. She responded by shoving his bike to the ground.
“I’m just grateful that my kids are okay. There’s not a scratch on them,” she said. “It was just the simple fact that I had kids in the car. I just wanted to protect them honestly.”
I admire her courage and instinct to protect her kids. I just hope that she won’t do so unarmed and defenseless next time, and will take a page from the Philadelphia grandfather who used his legally-carried gun to fend off a would-be carjacker last week.
So far, no arrest has been made in the assault on Bullock, but Philly’s soft-on-crime district attorney is talking semi-tough about the charges the suspect will face if and when he’s taken into custody.
“If that person is caught and I get the chance to charge that person, we will be going very, very vigorously,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said.
Krasner was asked Monday about ways to control dirt bikes and ATVs, which have posed problems on city streets for years. Krasner suggested using technology and wiretapping rather than simply rounding up all the bikes on the street.
“We have to understand how difficult the situation is for PPD because they cannot engage in high speed chases without endangering pedestrians, passersby, people who are completely uninvolved,” Krasner said.
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read Krasner’s comments because they’re so diametrically opposed to his stance on “illegal guns”. While the D.A. says rounding up all the illegal ATVs and dirt bikes is just too difficult, going after illegally possessed firearms is the centerpiece of his “gun violence prevention” strategy. It’s right there on Krasner’s official webpage.
By getting illegal guns off our streets, we confront the root of many violent crimes and set the stage for future prosecution.
Research has shown that tracing and tracking data on illegal firearms, including their origin and whether existing gun laws were violated in their purchase, can reduce violent crime over time.
In 2006, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office jointly formed the Gun Violence Task Force to investigate and prosecute crimes involving the illegal use of firearms. By reducing the number of illegal firearms across the city, and the violent crimes they help perpetuate, we make our city safer.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like rounding up illegal bikes and ATVs would be a lot easier than going after every illicitly possessed gun in Philadelphia. Heck, cracking down on the illegal riders might actually lead to finding more illegally obtained guns. I doubt that the rider who assaulted Nikki Bullock has a concealed carry license, for instance, and with Krasner taking a hands-off approach to the street takeovers those riders may be more inclined to illegally carry a gun of their own.
While I’m glad to see that Philadelphia’s crime spike appears to be on a downward trend like many other cities across the country, I wouldn’t give Krasner the credit. Krasner’s conviction rate for violent crimes was well below 50% last year, something he’s blamed at times on a lack of good cases brought to him by police. But Krasner’s philosophy is also one that seems to care more about addressing the “root causes” of crime than in punishing the actual perpetrators, and his tenure has been marked by controversy, including an impeachment by the Pennsylvania State House last year.
If the assault on Bullock hadn’t been caught on camera and become a major news story in Philadelphia, I doubt Krasner ever would have gone to reporters on his own to highlight the crime and promise “vigorous” charges. Instead, it would have just blended in amongst the thousands of aggravated assaults that will take place this year. I know that Philly voters re-elected Krasner last year, but even if they’re okay with street takeovers and looking to address crime by going after “illegal guns”, planting trees, or hiring violence interrupters I doubt that many of them want to see violent offenders walk away without any consequence, and that’s happening on a regular basis these days, whether their weapon of choice is an illegally possessed gun or a bike helmet.