Two Shotgun-Wielding Carjackers Who Attacked Rideshare Driver and Passenger Near Philadelphia Zoo Federally Charged

2 mins read
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Alex Fernandez-Pena, 32, and Juan Jose Rodriguez, 20, both of Philadelphia, PA, were arrested and charged by Indictment on charges of carjacking and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence stemming from an incident earlier this year in the Parkside section of Philadelphia. Both defendants were taken into federal custody and will make their initial appearances on these charges tomorrow, February 24, 2022.

On January 3, 2022, the defendants used their Honda Accord to bump the rear bumper of a Lyft vehicle, an Infiniti G37, that was transporting a passenger on the 1100 block of North 40th Street. After the Lyft driver exited his vehicle, Fernandez-Pena allegedly pointed a 12-gauge shotgun at the driver-victim and then drove off with the Lyft vehicle after its passenger escaped through a rear door. The driver-victim, who had a license to carry a firearm, shot Fernandez-Pena before the defendant drove away in the victim’s vehicle. The victim then shot Rodriguez, the suspect who allegedly initiated the attack by rear-ending the Infiniti, after Rodriguez threatened to run the victim over with his Honda. Philadelphia Police officers subsequently captured both defendants nearby. The attack occurred in broad daylight around 2:30 p.m., less than a mile away from family attractions like the Please Touch Children’s Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo.

“As we have said many times since launching the #AllHandsOnDeck initiative, our Office and our federal partners are doing everything we can to support the Philadelphia Police Department and prosecute cases federally when appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Here, the defendants allegedly committed a brazen carjacking at gunpoint in the middle of the afternoon in busy neighborhood; an offense that certainly meets the criteria for federal indictment. We are committed to bringing the full might of the federal justice system to this battle.

Related:  South Carolina Man Sentenced to Almost Four Years in Prison for Consumer Electronics Theft Scheme

“ATF’s main objective will always be keeping our citizens safe,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “This indictment is indicative of ATF’s continued efforts working with our partners and proudly serving as part of the joint carjacking task force, being led by the Philadelphia Police Department. We will continue working with our local, state, and federal partners in making sure violent individuals are held accountable when they threaten the safety of the community.”

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, each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison, as well as a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years’ incarceration.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael R. Miller.

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