19 arrests for 19 murders in 2 weeks

December 20, 2007 4:57:28 PM PST
Philadelphia Police announced Thursday that they've solved 19 murders, and they did it in a matter of days. While the notorious murder rate stands at 385, the progress is welcomed by detectives looking for murderers, and the victims' families who are looking for answers.

"I'd describe (them) as 19 murderers. And 19 murders committed killed 19 people," said Philadelphia Police commissioner Sylvester Johnson during a press conference held Thursday.

"With all these arrests I think it's a tremendous Christmas present to the citizens of Philadelphia," added Jane Challman, FBI Assistant Special Agent.

No one in attendance could recall anything quite like it. 19 homicide suspects, 19 wanted men and women busted in just two weeks time. The arrests are the work of a local federal task force and what may be a shift in public opinion - a shift away from what's been dubbed a "don't snitch" culture.

Among those rounded up by the fugitive task force was 22-year-old Andrew Poole. He allegedly killed a man in November and wounded a toddler in September at the Tustin playground in Overbrook.

As for why the public may be more willing to share information with police, the commissioner mentioned the aftermath of the murder of Officer Chuck Cassidy in October. Johnson said, "When Officer Cassidy got killed, you saw the outpouring of the community. From all races, from all parts of the city. In addition to that, I think with the 10,000 Men that came out there, with the idea that you have men from the streets now saying that we want to get involved."

While the commissioner has had some tough times in his tenure as the top cop here in Philadelphia, he was clearly pleased by the work of the fugitive task force.