(STL.News) – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that William Johnson, 34, of Philadelphia, PA was convicted today at trial of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, arising from an incident in which Philadelphia police officers recovered a weapon that Johnson had tried to discard while attempting to evade capture.
In September 2019, Philadelphia Police Department Highway Patrol Officers responded to reports of a person with a gun at 15th Street and West Allegheny Avenue in North Philadelphia. Upon arrival, the officers observed the defendant walking with a person that matched the description in the report. When the officers got out of their car to investigate, Johnson took off in a full sprint while holding onto his waistband. He then cut through an empty lot and climbed a fence in an attempt to flee. An officer drove around to where Johnson would be expected to emerge on the other side of the lot. When Johnson climbed the fence that led away from the lot, he spotted yet another police officer. Johnson then jumped down from the fence and the officers observed him toss a firearm a few feet away. The officers then took Johnson into custody and secured the firearm.
“Everybody knows what is happening in Philadelphia today with the staggering violent crime rates, and everybody also knows the reason for it – a lack of enforcement at the local level. One of the ways that my Office is working to combat this chaos is by stepping in to aggressively prosecute cases in which convicted felons illegally possess firearms,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “This was not an easy case, and in fact resulted in a hung jury the first time we tried it back in January. But now justice has been done, thanks to the determination of the prosecution team and our law enforcement partners in this case, the FBI, the ATF, and the Philadelphia Police Department. This is the kind of commitment that is needed to keep our community safe.”
“The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to get guns out of the hands of convicted felons and off the streets,” said, Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “In order to reduce violent crime, we must stay vigilant and keep firearms away from those not permitted to possess them.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Eckert.