A Philadelphia man has been arrested for allegedly selling homemade dynamite over social media platforms to suspected rioters.
Talib Crump is accused of manufacturing makeshift dynamite sticks which authorities say may have been used to blow up a number of ATMs in the city earlier this week, Pennsylvania state officials announced Wednesday.
The 26-year-old is suspected of using Instagram to market his homemade explosives to nearly 2,000 followers as ongoing protests simultaneously reverberated through Philadelphia, the Attorney General's office said in a release.
“Mr. Crump, who bragged on social media that using dynamite was better than bullets for robbing an ATM, offered up explicit instructions on how to best set dynamite up to blow up an ATM,” Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
Crump also allegedly boasted he had blown a cash machine to smithereens earlier in the week and made off with $8,500, prosecutors said.
“Sticks for sale,” Crump allegedly declared in an Instagram Story, which appeared to show a bag of dynamite, and wrote, “Who got dynamite ASAP ?? For sale," in a separate post.
Crump was arrested by undercover agents with “enough dynamite” to blow up four cash machines, according to authorities. He faces a large number of explosives and weapons charges in connection to the case.
“[He] sought to take advantage of the civil unrest, to sow chaos and destruction, and in turn, he has terrorized neighborhoods,” Shapiro stated.
Crump's arrest follows a series of explosions that have targeted various ATMs in Philadelphia this week, though it was not immediately clear if Crump's alleged homemade TNT was responsible for all of them.
“It’s a big incident with numerous ATMs,” Eric McLaurin, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department, told Oxygen.com.
The alleged explosive heists are linked to looting and swelling riots, which have engulfed Philadelphia — and many major U.S. cities — amid largely peaceful protests reacting to George Floyd’s death. The spiraling tensions have led to more than 10,000 arrests and caused millions of dollars in property damage across the country, according to The Associated Press.
Four Minneapolis police officers were charged in Floyd's murder this week.
“We will not let anyone hijack the groundswell we see in our streets in support of justice for their own selfish gain,” Sterling added. “And we will not let violence hijack this movement.”
On Tuesday, a 24-year-old suspected looter was killed by explosives he had allegedly attempted to affix to a cash machine in North Philadelphia, police said. Bomb squad investigators later recovered “live explosives” from the scene.
State officials are investigating whether Crump is connected to the lethal blast as well as other cash machine explosions in the city.
Some experts following the case denounced Crump’s alleged actions as blatant domestic terrorism.
"I find it very unfortunate that anyone would capitalize on the Black Lives Matter movement in order to cede or sow panic [and] fear," Adam Scott Wandt, a security expert and assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told Oxygen.com.
Drug traffickers, pedophiles, and hitmen have long worked in the shadows of the dark net, Wandt said — but he noted this would be the first time he's observed explosives for sale on a major social media platform. He warned that suspected agitators and black market dealers alike could engage in similar schemes to turn a quick dollar.
“The fact that Mr. Crump would launch a criminal conspiracy to produce and sell dynamite and instruct others how to use it to blow open ATMs during a period of such civil unrest is absolutely disgusting,” Wandt added.
One detonation, which ripped an ATM to shreds outside a North Philadelphia pizza parlor, was captured on camera by social media users.
“It was really, really loud,” Will Brown, 24, a neighborhood resident who heard the blast, told Oxygen.com. “I didn’t know it was dynamite at the time. That shook the house — and it was crazy.”
Brown, a musician who lives half a block away from the cash machine destroyed in the clip, said he was lying in bed at around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning listening to the hum of helicopters overhead when he heard a “giant explosion,” followed by a succession of blasts.
“They set off the explosions at least four, I think maybe five times,” Brown said.
His roommate was also roused by the detonation.
“I heard it plain as day,” JT Beaver, a 25-year-old jazz drummer, told Oxygen.com. “It just sounded like a huge boom. I’ve never heard anything like it before.”
The blast stunned and frightened him, he said.
“With everything going on, you don’t know what’s going to pop off and where,” Beaver explained. “Is somebody trying to blow up a building? Is someone trying to get into our apartment?”
“#Phillyexplosions” trended on Twitter this week as Philadelphians began mass documenting their own account of the blasts, which were initially shrouded in mystery.
Crump is charged with 11 felony counts of possession of a weapon of mass destruction, including three dozen misdemeanor charges in connection to the case. The 26-year-old is scheduled to appear at a municipal courthouse for a preliminary hearing on June 23, court documents show.
It’s unclear if he’s retained legal counsel.
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