Philadelphia Man Charged with Federal Firearms Offense After Incident During 2020 Civil Unrest

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PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Mashaq White, 23, of Philadelphia, PA, was arrested and charged by Indictment on the charge of being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm, stemming from an incident which occurred during the civil unrest in Philadelphia last year. At a hearing in U.S. District Court today, the defendant was detained pending trial.

The Indictment alleges that on June 1, 2020, the defendant was in possession of a loaded 9mm Ruger handgun as a convicted felon. According to court documents, Philadelphia Police Officers responded to a burglary in progress at a pharmacy on the 5600 block of Chestnut Street in West Philadelphia. When they entered the store they found it ransacked and the sprinkler system activated. Suddenly, the defendant allegedly came running down an aisle of the store, toward one of the officers, while carrying a handgun. The officer restrained the defendant and he was arrested. The incident was captured on the officer’s body camera.

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“Our office is committed to prosecuting anybody who took advantage of the civil unrest and protests of last summer to try to commit violent acts or otherwise violate federal law,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “In this case, a previously convicted felon is charged with allegedly possessing a loaded firearm, which presents a clear danger to our community that is struggling under a surge of violent gun crime.”

“Getting guns away from people who shouldn’t have them is a crucial part of our concerted effort to check violent crime in this city,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “If you’re in criminal possession of a firearm, the FBI and our partners will be glad to take it off your hands, in exchange for a nice pair of cuffs. We will continue to do all we can to make Philadelphia safer for the good folks who live, work, or visit here.”

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This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment. 

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The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James R. Pavlock.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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