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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Eight people have been arrested following a joint investigation into a homicide and retaliatory shooting linked to rival groups from the Grays Ferry neighborhood, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced in a press conference Wednesday. The arrests come following a year-long investigation between the Office of Attorney General agents and the district attorney’s office, known as the Gun Violence Task Force, working to target the group of individuals responsible for a large number of shootings in 2017 and 2018.
Twenty-two-year-old Khalid Harrison and 20-year-old Mujihad Deen were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the Dec. 19, 2017 murder of 17-year-old Nasir Livingston.
Twenty-two-year-old Markeshha Hines-Washington, 20-year-old Nasir Evans, 22-year-old Montez Burke, 21-year-old Alexis Hodge, and 21-year-old Galvison Morris were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the Dec. 27, 2017 double shooting in retaliation to the Dec. 19 homicide.
Twenty-one-year-old Nyseem Smith was arrested on charges unrelated to the two incidents listed above.
The charges include murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault and firearms offenses.
“Our communities, in Philadelphia and throughout the Commonwealth, cannot sustain this level of carnage. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer for Pennsylvania, it is my job to target violent criminals and bring them to justice, and the agents from my office who serve on the Gun Violence Task Force are doing everything they can to work with our law enforcement partners to solve these crimes,” Shapiro said in a statement.
Over 100 local, state and federal agents, detectives and officers took part in the execution of the eight arrest warrants and search warrants on residences early this morning.
Law enforcement also retrieved five handguns which are being tested for links to other crimes.
“Today, we are announcing the conclusion of a long-term investigation by the Gun Violence Task Force into gang-related violence in South Philadelphia,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said. “I am very proud of our Assistant District Attorneys for participating in this investigation along with other members of the Gun Violence Task Force, including the Attorney General’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department. Together, we are making strides towards reducing gun violence and making our streets safer.”
In February 2018, Philadelphia Police connected with members of the Gun Violence Task Force to investigate an explosion of shootings between two rival groups who identify themselves based on the blocks in the neighborhood they control in Grays Ferry. Those groups identify themselves as 27th Street and 31st Street.
Petty slights, social media posts and generational grudges fueled the retaliatory violence between the two groups.
Between January 2017 and February 2018, the violence between the groups accounted for 43 shooting incidents where 35 people were shot and injured, including a 12-year-old boy and 59-year-old woman. Three people were killed.
The GVTF used an ATF gun-tracing date, electronic forensic examination from the FBI and other policing techniques to investigate the groups.
A grand jury ultimately recommended charges be brought against eight people in connection with the two specific shootings that occurred on Dec. 19 and Dec. 27.
“This investigation and the attendant arrests serve as an example of the effectiveness of strong and consistent collaboration between law enforcement agencies,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said. “We anticipate that this operation will further disrupt narcotics trafficking and related criminal activity, and have an appreciable impact on the quality of life of our residents.”
In 2018, the GVFT was responsible for 115 arrests, recovered 184 weapons and opened 523 investigations.