Prosecutors hope arrests deliver ‘crippling blow’ to West Philly street gang

West Philly gang
District Attorney Larry Krasner speaks Monday, Dec. 19, about an investigation into West Philadelphia street groups at the Church of Christian Compassion in Cobbs Creek.
Jack Tomczuk

Two young men were wounded in a drive-by shooting. A teenager was shot outside a holiday party. More than 100 bullets were fired at a crowded community cookout, killing two men.

That violence occurred within a span of about two hours on July 4, 2021, and prosecutors believe the same gunmen – all connected to a small West Philadelphia-based street gang – were responsible.

Authorities in recent days have arrested and charged five people, with warrants issued for three others, connected with “o2da4,” a group that is believed to operate in the area of 66th Street and Haverford Avenue, and its affiliates, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Assistant DA Jeffrey Palmer said the investigation and resulting arrests, announced at a news conference Monday, delivered “what should be a crippling blow” to the organization, which they allege is responsible for at least half a dozen shootings over the past couple of years.

For more than 18 months, detectives, with the help of the FBI and ATF, have been using ballistic evidence and cellphone data to identify and build cases against members of the gang, Palmer told reporters.

O2da4, prosecutors said, along with its allies, have been in a bloody battle with a Southwest Philadelphia gang known as “524” since the December 2020 killing of 21-year-old Frank Smith.

This map shows where authorities believe violent gangs have been operating in West and Southwest Philadelphia.District Attorney’s Office

Anthony Lacey-Woodson, a relative of Smith and member of o2da4, blamed the shooting on 524 and initiated a string of retaliatory violence, Palmer said.

The series of events reflects the gang culture in West and Southwest Philadelphia, Palmer said. Groups tend to be smaller, without a strict hierarchy. They are not necessarily involved in the drug trade and form beefs over social media slights, he added.

Lacey-Woodson, 20, who goes by the name “Pistol P,” was apprehended Thursday and has been charged with three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and a host of other crimes. His defense counsel could not be identified Monday.

After Smith’s death, Lacey-Woodson, Tyheed Cooper, Nasir Wells, and Fabian Creary allegedly shot up a party that was occurring in January 2021 on the 3800 block of Parrish Street in Mantua. A young woman who was there with friends was injured, according to the DAO.

In March 2021, Lacey-Woodson and Wells drove to the 5200 block of Pentridge Street in Kingsessing, where they fatally shot 15-year-old Antonio Walker, authorities said. Walker had been playing basketball with his cousin.

“This was not a young man who had any involvement with any gang violence,” Palmer said at Monday’s press briefing.

Wells, 21, who is also known as Yasir Shakur-Wells, is wanted for murder and has not yet been apprehended.

Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Palmer speaks Monday, Dec. 19, about an investigation into West Philadelphia street gangs. Jack Tomczuk

On the Fourth of July, in 2021, Lacey-Woodson and 21-year-old Jalen Mickens are accused of participating in a double shooting that happened in Kingsessing. Later that day, they shot a 15-year-old boy in West Philadelphia, prosecutors said.

About five minutes after the teenager was wounded, four gunmen attacked a holiday barbecue that was being held at 60th and Sansom streets to celebrate the anniversary of a clothing store.

The business’s owner, Sircarr Johnson Jr., and another man, Salahaldin Kama-Malmoud, were killed, and two other people were struck by gunfire, including a 16-year-old girl.

Authorities have charged Lacey-Woodson and Mickens in connection with the mass shooting, as well as the two earlier July 4 shootings.

Palmer confirmed that investigators are looking into o2da4’s possible involvement in other shootings but said he could not provide further details.

As part of the operation, authorities identified two people who allegedly helped supply the guns that fueled the violence.

Calvin Gatewood, 25, is wanted on charges that he purchased firearms and provided them to Lacey-Woodson.

And Kimberly Johnson has been arrested for allegedly buying two weapons at a suburban gun show for her son, 20-year-old Ahmir Johnson. The younger Johnson is a fugitive, wanted for an April 2021 shooting in Kingsessing.

More from our Sister Sites