Flash mob robbery suspect denies involvement

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - August 30, 2011

It was a Saturday night in March. The police had a heavy presence on South Street, so, a gang of kids, a flash mob, wandered a few blocks away and converged on a corner store.

Surveillance video captured the mayhem inside.

An estimated 25 to 30 young people wandered through the store stealing what they could and knocking merchandise from the shelves.

Some of the kids appeared to be as young as 10 or 12.

Police later arrested five of them, two adults and three juveniles. The rest all scattered and got away.

The store owner is seen chasing after the last two as they leave.

He got punched in the face and returned to the store with a bloody nose.

"The video clearly depicts the problems and the dangerousness of these flash mobs," Assistant District Attorney Kevin Harden said.

One of the adults arrested, 20-year-old Jimmy McCaskill, was in court today for a preliminary hearing.

Investigators say he is the young man with a beard in the video who enters with the mob and engages the store owner at the cash register, while the others start shoplifting.

McCaskill claims he wasn't with the mob.

"I went to the store to buy another pack of Marlboros, after that I got locked up maybe 10 to 15, maybe 20 minutes later," McCaskill said.

When it was brought up that the video makes him look to be a lookout of some kind, he replied, "No, I was just going to the store to buy another pack of Marlboro and that's what happened."

Investigators aren't buying it.

"Mr. McCaskill comes in the middle of the group, he leaves with the middle of the group, he's not the first in, he's not the last out," Harden said.

In a sign of the damage done by flash mobs, the owner gave up and sold his store.

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